Definition of wish in US English:



[no object]
  • 1Feel or express a strong desire or hope for something that is not easily attainable; want something that cannot or probably will not happen.

    ‘we wished for peace’
    with clause ‘he wished that he had practiced the routines’
    • ‘Because they know what they have always desired, valued, wished for, and they find that these novelties are better means to their own ends than their old ways.’
    • ‘I wished for a lot of things that would probably never happen and a tear fell for every one.’
    • ‘He wished for not a care in the world, a place where he could forget all his worries and simply relax.’
    • ‘I've always wished for that kind of traffic but I never expected it to come from such an unlikely source.’
    • ‘Sophia was not pleased with the day's events and just wished for a second chance she knew she would not get.’
    • ‘While we communally wished for lightning to strike.’
    • ‘When I was a kid, I remember we all wished for snow by Thanksgiving.’
    • ‘They were graceful to watch in movement, though I wished for stronger color.’
    desire, want, hope for, long for, yearn for, crave, hunger for, thirst for, lust after, covet, sigh for, pine for, dream of
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1 Silently invoke a hope or desire, especially in a ritualized way.
      ‘I closed my eyes and wished’
      • ‘I sighed and silently wished I was wearing a skirt, it was easier to walk in.’
      • ‘He cursed silently, wishing he could kill this guy.’
      • ‘Alex became silent, and suddenly wished he hadn't asked that question.’
      • ‘Or maybe I just would have given them the finger and silently wished I was braver.’
      • ‘Silently, she wished that her husband would be there with her, and he would guide her through it all, but she was alone this time.’
      • ‘Silently wishing I'd brought my hiking boots, I strike out for the store.’
      • ‘I looked up, hoping, wishing, yearning, that maybe, just possibly, Summer could have gotten better.’
      • ‘I watched and stood silent, wishing I had the courage to say something but too afraid that if I said anything, people might suspect I was gay too.’
      • ‘She glanced at the table, silently wishing she could give him more, but knowing he wouldn't ask for it even if she could.’
      • ‘Still, she stared anxiously at the silent phone, wishing there was some way to be sure.’
      • ‘She wept quietly, wishing she could be silent in case a soldier may be coming close, but she couldn't still her weakening voice.’
      • ‘Well, he's playing in the Bay tonight, and I'm moaning and rocking and pining and wishing like all hell that I was there too.’
      • ‘He flung the door open in disgust as I silently followed, wishing I never said anything in the first place.’
      • ‘I cursed silently, wishing I had never let Jamie persuade me into wearing this.’
      • ‘I rested my head on the steering wheel, crying silently and wishing, hoping she was okay.’
      • ‘‘I'll get it,’ I said quickly rushing from the room silently wishing that it wasn't Dean.’
      • ‘He was always silently wishing in his heart that Marianne someday will notice him.’
      • ‘The first semester was okay, but after Christmas I started to pine for home, wishing I was closer, that I could just be there.’
      • ‘And I, powerless to go with her as she was powerless to stay with me, stood here silently wishing I had time to say everything I never told her.’
      • ‘I silently wished that no club owner would let them in their establishment that night.’
    2. 1.2with infinitive Feel or express a desire to do something.
      ‘they wish to become involved’
      • ‘Some of the matters involved in States wishing to retain controls go beyond the simple issues of ministerial empires.’
      • ‘I wish to record my gratitude and congratulations to all those involved.’
      • ‘In addition, he has made it known that he wishes to become involved in charity work.’
      • ‘His attitude is that he does not wish to be involved in any argument whether this valuation is right or wrong.’
      • ‘I wish to be involved in deciding the treatment I receive as much as possible.’
      • ‘She said the company had subsequently done an urgent review of the stores involved and then decided it did not wish to renew the Post Office contracts.’
      • ‘All parents, coaches and mentors are welcome to attend these sessions, which are most valuable for any parents wishing to become involved with the Club.’
      • ‘Also needed are locals wishing to get involved by decorating their home, shop, office or workplace along a 1940s theme for the festival weekend.’
      • ‘There is also a YPT scheme for younger teenagers and the BAC offers opportunities to virtually anyone in the borough who wishes to become involved in theatre.’
      • ‘The centre now offers a group program dealing with grief and loss as well as training for men wishing to be involved in community work.’
      • ‘Any boat owner wishing to become involved in Boatwatch can get a registration form from their local marine office or police station.’
      • ‘If those involved wish to risk their lives that is their choice but to risk the lives of the public is another matter entirely.’
      • ‘Alternatively, you may wish to complain to the estate agent involved.’
      • ‘Let those involved decide if they'd wish to participate in the meting out of justice.’
      • ‘Ladies wishing to be involved in the fundraising feat should be aged over 17.’
      • ‘He had approached the headmaster in advance of the trial and was told that neither the children nor their parents wished to be involved.’
      • ‘The event is aimed to support those already involved and encourage any woman wishing to take up the sport.’
      • ‘Well, it is not just a question of the Met, I think any of the individuals involved would wish to defend their position and their reputation.’
      • ‘He also understood that WFD were involved and wished to rebuild that connection.’
      • ‘I was involved with parties who wished to purchase my property at any cost.’
      • ‘Any girl wishing to get involved can contact Carmel Lynch on 41839.’
      want, desire, have an inclination, be inclined, feel inclined, feel like, care
      View synonyms
    3. 1.3with object and infinitive Ask (someone) to do something or that (something) be done.
      ‘I wish it to be clearly understood’
      • ‘After the three hours, I was just wishing it wouldn't end.’
      • ‘I wish these Indian organizations and many others could reach some level of professionalism.’
      • ‘I do not wish any rituals, except the recitation of the Guru Granth, to follow my death.’
      • ‘However, as I have no stamina for non-narrative documentaries, by about two thirds of the way through I was bored and wishing it'd finish.’
      • ‘She departed with the tennis racquets, walking gracefully off the court and leaving me sitting on the bench wishing the earth would open and swallow me up.’
      • ‘And I scuttled out wishing the floor would open up.’
      • ‘I looked hopefully up at my parents wishing their sad expressions would change, but they didn't.’
      • ‘It's so frosty here, I keep wishing it would snow.’
      • ‘And it's very easy for me to look into the eyes of a child and remember being that kid, feeling so powerless, wishing somebody would help me.’
      • ‘And they're pretty much wishing the whole thing would go away.’
      • ‘I've never been to St. Lucia before - I wish my first visit could be more than 23 hours long.’
      • ‘And I am at present wishing OUR snow would go away!’
      • ‘In other words, wishing it to happen won't really make it happen unless there is enough shifting of negotiating positions.’
      • ‘If I wish an organization to lobby for my political beliefs, I will join such an organization.’
      • ‘Having promised to join in the celebrations and wave to his mum if his team won, the Rangers boss was doubtless wishing this ever-improving campaign would never end.’
    4. 1.4with two objects Express a desire for (the success or good fortune) of (someone)
      ‘they wish her every success’
      • ‘She calls after us to wish us a Shabbat Shalom and while we bless her with health, happiness and success, she wishes us the same.’
      • ‘Both young people are wished every happiness and success in the years ahead.’
      • ‘Alan and Lisa are wished every success and happiness.’
      • ‘He is pursuing a professional career in dance and of course our family wishes him every success and happiness.’
      • ‘She wished him every success with his latest publication.’
    5. 1.5wish something onwith object Hope that something unpleasant will happen to.
      ‘I would not wish it on the vilest soul’
      • ‘Not that I wished that fate on him its just sometimes as a kid, and as an adult too, you think that the only way to get out of those comparison shadows is for the other person to completely slip up.’
      • ‘I'm not vindictive and I don't wish any ill health on him, but he has to serve the time.’
      • ‘However, high anxiety can be no less debilitating and I wouldn't wish either condition on anyone.’
      • ‘He does drive a taxi though, I wouldn't wish that fate on anyone.’
      • ‘He added, ‘The closer you were to facing and accepting death, the harder it was to wish the fear on anyone else.’’
      • ‘No one should have to suffer the awkwardness, pain, and humiliation of being an outcast, and I feel that it is terrible to wish it on anyone.’
      • ‘I wouldn't wish a near-miss on anyone, but maybe sharing the experience will help others understand.’
      • ‘I said, ‘You wouldn't wish the suffering on anyone, but if it doesn't break people it often makes them more generous and empathetic to others.’’
      • ‘Not because I wish that misery on them, but because I think this would be one of those miseries that lightens upon being shared.’
      • ‘The trauma just goes on and on and I wouldn't wish it on anyone.’
      • ‘We would all die eventually, whether anyone wished it on us or not.’
      • ‘I've had my loans called twice in my career, and I wouldn't wish the experience on anyone.’
      • ‘Modern political speech is so dopey, so banal, that it's no wonder why people wish a pox on all houses.’
      • ‘It is far from clear what their agenda is now: do they just wish a plague on everyone's house?’
      • ‘As bad as he felt, he didn't wish his misery on anyone else.’
      • ‘I don't think that I would wish this pain on anyone.’
      • ‘I've never wished death on anyone, you know, and I'd never wish burns on anyone, but these people, they deserve all that they get and more because they're just a worthless space, they're just nothing.’
      • ‘I am doubtful that you would wish this disability on anyone but by making people aware of the problems, then they won't have to go through the same problems that you have encountered.’
      • ‘‘I wouldn't wish it on anyone,’ he says, remembering what it was like in 1989 when he had to hang on until midnight to see if he still had a seat.’
      • ‘And yet how could he be sane to wish this fate on the world?’


  • 1A desire or hope for something to happen.

    ‘the union has reiterated its wish for an agreement’
    with infinitive ‘it is their wish to continue organizing similar exhibitions’
    • ‘Maybe because he had long since given up hope that such a wish was anything but a childish dream.’
    • ‘When you don't have a strong sense of self, you become a reflection of other people's hopes, wishes, expectations and opinions about you.’
    • ‘And his only wish now is to continue telling stories till the last breath.’
    • ‘But it must be more than a hope or a wish, more than knowing that it is good for you.’
    • ‘I guessed that my life was such a disaster that I didn't have the mind to have a dream, a wish of my own.’
    • ‘We expect and hope that Australia and Indonesia have the same wish.’
    • ‘This can have the effect of leaving letters unread, the opposite of the desired wish of the writer.’
    • ‘The idea of the lake stretching across the whole world was only a desire, a wish shared by everyone in Belryno.’
    • ‘Of course that occurs, but people sell their land because, as the treaty assumed, it may be their wish and desire to do so.’
    • ‘We care enough about Jackie that we simultaneously hope that his wish to go to war will be granted, and that it never will.’
    • ‘They knew his fears and best hopes, his wishes and his dying dreams.’
    • ‘She told me she was comfortable talking to him, and he supported her wish to continue getting her education.’
    • ‘The men continue to work for themselves, which is a feature of gypsy life, as is their wish to continue to live in caravans.’
    • ‘We all shared a wish, a hope, and a dream to bring back justice, freedom and most of all fun.’
    • ‘We are a mixed bag of people, with different ideals, hopes, wishes and dreams.’
    • ‘We both expressed our wish to continue these talks and to find sensible solutions.’
    • ‘There is agreement in the wish to overcome the current situation as anomalous.’
    • ‘You however did, and as I'm twenty I no longer have to follow your every wish and whim.’
    • ‘Happy birthday and I hope your wish for a huge boost to global development comes true.’
    • ‘However his greatest wish was to continue his pastoral work in Ghana.’
    desire, longing, hope, yearning, inclination, urge, whim, craving, hunger, thirst, lust
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1usually wishes An expression of a desire or hope for something to happen, typically in the form of a request or instruction.
      ‘she must carry out her late father's wishes’
      • ‘When war broke out she became secretary of the local Home Guard in Spalding, but had really set her heart on joining the Wrens and, against her father's wishes, secretly applied.’
      • ‘Well, individually or collectively, the musicians were entirely responsive to the wishes of their Music Director.’
      • ‘It will be one of the first stadia in the UK to include a safe standing area as a direct response to the wishes of Salford fans.’
      • ‘In determining whether a patient's expressed wishes are applicable to the circumstances, they must be considered in their context.’
      • ‘I respect and understand the director's wishes about a commentary track, I just don't agree with him.’
      • ‘He added they would consider planning requirements, the wishes of the community and value for money when assessing prospective bids.’
      • ‘Jessica has been inconsistent in the expression of her wishes, wanting more time in the care of her father and then being content with the existing arrangement.’
      • ‘But what's the point of getting actively involved if outside bodies can come in and blatantly make threats and demands and get their way against the wishes of the communities here?’
      • ‘We're not always successful in answering all their wishes and desires, but we do work very closely with them.’
      • ‘I am afraid it is more to my father's wishes than mine.’
      • ‘He said nothing, but the tight set of his jaw made it quite clear that he did not approve of what he considered direct defiance of his wishes.’
      • ‘Residents are also concerned London Assembly and central Government objectives go against the wishes of the community.’
      • ‘His mathematics teacher advised that Arthur be encouraged to pursue his studies in this area rather than follow his father's wishes to enter the family business as merchants.’
      • ‘Their increasing need for independence may make kids want to defy their parents' wishes or instructions as a way of asserting their independence.’
      • ‘The commanding general wishes to talk to her himself, but it is of low priority, with the fight so close at hand.’
      • ‘It was the first time he'd gone against his father's wishes - instead, he took his mother's advice and went to catering college.’
      • ‘The performers of the reading were uniformly matched and admirably conformed to the director's wishes in under six hours of rehearsal making the event memorable.’
      • ‘We not only acknowledge but also predict the desires and wishes of our customers.’
      • ‘The ultimate decision in every case should be that of the woman who is pregnant, having taken the father's wishes on board if relevant.’
      • ‘The expression of your wishes in an informal letter to the trustees and guardians is often an easier way of ensuring your children are brought up as you would wish.’
      request, requirement, bidding, instruction, direction, demand, order, command
      View synonyms
    2. 1.2 An invocation or recitation of a hope or desire.
      ‘he makes a wish’
      • ‘She shuts her eyes and makes a wish in her head then blows out the candles.’
      • ‘You said yourself you don't have to come and get anyone that makes a wish.’
      • ‘Pushing her luck with the gods, she sees a falling star and makes a wish that has to be secret or it won't come true.’
      • ‘So did everyone, there was a silent pause as everyone closes their eyes and makes a wish.’
      • ‘Legends have it that if one stands in the circle and makes a wish, it would come true.’
    3. 1.3usually wishes An expression of a desire for someone's success or good fortune.
      ‘they had received kindness and good wishes from total strangers’
      • ‘Anne thanked Delia for her good wishes and complimented her on her hard work and success as captain.’
      • ‘We, of course, express our good wishes to the couple.’
      • ‘Our good wishes go to the Northern Rivers community and we hope Lismore continues to flourish and prosper in the future.’
      • ‘There have been thousands of messages expressing support, good wishes, a joke or whatever they wanted.’
      • ‘The community wish them joy, good wishes and congratulations.’
      • ‘Throwing tsampa in the air in this way is an expression of good wishes for your own and others happiness and the overcoming of all obstacles.’
      • ‘I don't have an email address for him but let's all share good wishes via comments for him to heal up fast.’
      • ‘Thank you to everyone who's got in touch to offer their good wishes.’
      • ‘Before All-Ireland finals, strangers in the street would express their good wishes.’
      • ‘Best wishes for a speedy recovery to full health to all from the area in hospital and continuing good wishes to those recuperating at home.’
      • ‘Thanks for the good wishes about teaching, hope the birthday went well.’
      • ‘‘He was interested to hear about all the hard work they put into raising funds for this project and has asked me to send you his good wishes,’ said Miss Hikmat.’
      • ‘All these teams will be in competition between June 22 and June 29 and they carry the good wishes of the entire community in their quest for further honours.’
      • ‘Good wishes, good luck and every success in the future to all those graduates who were celebrating their success in the village last week.’
      • ‘Instead, offer congratulations and good wishes to the bride and groom with a champagne that is crisp but harmonious, with a fine flavour and a lasting finish.’
      • ‘Hope everyone is thinking of us, giving their good wishes and hopefully we'll have a good successful summit and get everybody heading back home.’
      • ‘To all those people who have offered us their good wishes and practical support we say a very big thank you.’
      • ‘The Commissioner deserves our good wishes and support for his success.’
      • ‘Good wishes are extended to all from the area who are in hospital just now.’
      • ‘This winning team will now go on to contest the National Finals in May with all the hopes and good wishes of their fellow students.’
    4. 1.4 A thing or event that is or has been desired; an object of desire.
      ‘the petitioners eventually got their wish’


Is it correct to say I wish I were rich or I wish I was rich? On the question of the use of the subjunctive mood, see subjunctive


  • if wishes were horses, beggars would ride

    • proverb If you could achieve your aims simply by wishing for them, life would be very easy.

      • ‘As they say though, if wishes were horses, beggars would ride!’
      • ‘If he'd conjured up a guitar and speakers, instead of wasting effort on a childish bit of revenge… and if wishes were horses, beggars would ride.’
  • wish someone well

    • Feel or express a desire for someone's well-being.

      • ‘I think everyone wishes him well but maybe in the past we have been too tolerant simply because we regard him as a well-liked and unique character.’
      • ‘There was that lovely feeling of togetherness with everyone wishing her well, all delighting in the latest chapter in her life.’
      • ‘If you don't care about your own emotional well-being, my just wishing you well won't really help you.’
      • ‘The West Highland Way walk was great because as well as giving to charity, everyone joined together in wishing me well.’
      • ‘Everyone wishes her well because she's a great talent and a lovely lady.’
  • the wish is father to the thought

    • proverb We believe a thing because we wish it to be true.

      • ‘Well, sometimes the wish is father to the thought.’
      • ‘It seems with England that the wish is father to the thought while the Australians see what they have at their disposal and work from there.’
      • ‘Where the wish is father to the thought such logic is convincing.’
      • ‘So often on both sides the wish is father to the thought.’
      • ‘I'm confident the war won't last much longer dearest and not merely because the wish is father to the thought.’


Old English wȳscan, of Germanic origin; related to German wünschen, also to ween and wont.