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’
    • ‘When I was a kid, I remember we all wished for snow by Thanksgiving.’
    • ‘I wished for a lot of things that would probably never happen and a tear fell for every one.’
    • ‘They were graceful to watch in movement, though I wished for stronger color.’
    • ‘While we communally wished for lightning to strike.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Sophia was not pleased with the day's events and just wished for a second chance she knew she would not get.’
    • ‘I've always wished for that kind of traffic but I never expected it to come from such an unlikely source.’
    • ‘He wished for not a care in the world, a place where he could forget all his worries and simply relax.’
    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’
      • ‘He cursed silently, wishing he could kill this guy.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘He flung the door open in disgust as I silently followed, wishing I never said anything in the first place.’
      • ‘‘I'll get it,’ I said quickly rushing from the room silently wishing that it wasn't Dean.’
      • ‘Or maybe I just would have given them the finger and silently wished I was braver.’
      • ‘I sighed and silently wished I was wearing a skirt, it was easier to walk in.’
      • ‘Still, she stared anxiously at the silent phone, wishing there was some way to be sure.’
      • ‘I silently wished that no club owner would let them in their establishment that night.’
      • ‘Silently wishing I'd brought my hiking boots, I strike out for the store.’
      • ‘He was always silently wishing in his heart that Marianne someday will notice him.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Alex became silent, and suddenly wished he hadn't asked that question.’
      • ‘She glanced at the table, silently wishing she could give him more, but knowing he wouldn't ask for it even if she could.’
      • ‘She wept quietly, wishing she could be silent in case a soldier may be coming close, but she couldn't still her weakening voice.’
      • ‘The first semester was okay, but after Christmas I started to pine for home, wishing I was closer, that I could just be there.’
      • ‘I looked up, hoping, wishing, yearning, that maybe, just possibly, Summer could have gotten better.’
    2. 1.2with infinitive Feel or express a desire to do something.
      ‘they wish to become involved’
      • ‘The event is aimed to support those already involved and encourage any woman wishing to take up the sport.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘If those involved wish to risk their lives that is their choice but to risk the lives of the public is another matter entirely.’
      • ‘Ladies wishing to be involved in the fundraising feat should be aged over 17.’
      • ‘Also needed are locals wishing to get involved by decorating their home, shop, office or workplace along a 1940s theme for the festival weekend.’
      • ‘Let those involved decide if they'd wish to participate in the meting out of justice.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘I was involved with parties who wished to purchase my property at any cost.’
      • ‘His attitude is that he does not wish to be involved in any argument whether this valuation is right or wrong.’
      • ‘Alternatively, you may wish to complain to the estate agent involved.’
      • ‘Any boat owner wishing to become involved in Boatwatch can get a registration form from their local marine office or police station.’
      • ‘In addition, he has made it known that he wishes to become involved in charity work.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Some of the matters involved in States wishing to retain controls go beyond the simple issues of ministerial empires.’
      • ‘He also understood that WFD were involved and wished to rebuild that connection.’
      • ‘I wish to record my gratitude and congratulations to all those involved.’
      • ‘Any girl wishing to get involved can contact Carmel Lynch on 41839.’
      • ‘He had approached the headmaster in advance of the trial and was told that neither the children nor their parents wished to be involved.’
      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’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘After the three hours, I was just wishing it wouldn't end.’
      • ‘And they're pretty much wishing the whole thing would go away.’
      • ‘In other words, wishing it to happen won't really make it happen unless there is enough shifting of negotiating positions.’
      • ‘It's so frosty here, I keep wishing it would snow.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘If I wish an organization to lobby for my political beliefs, I will join such an organization.’
      • ‘I've never been to St. Lucia before - I wish my first visit could be more than 23 hours long.’
      • ‘I wish these Indian organizations and many others could reach some level of professionalism.’
      • ‘And I am at present wishing OUR snow would go away!’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘I do not wish any rituals, except the recitation of the Guru Granth, to follow my death.’
      • ‘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.’
    4. 1.4with two objects Express a desire for (the success or good fortune) of (someone)
      ‘they wish her every success’
      • ‘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 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.’
      • ‘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’
      • ‘And yet how could he be sane to wish this fate on the world?’
      • ‘I don't think that I would wish this pain on anyone.’
      • ‘It is far from clear what their agenda is now: do they just wish a plague on everyone's house?’
      • ‘I wouldn't wish a near-miss on anyone, but maybe sharing the experience will help others understand.’
      • ‘We would all die eventually, whether anyone wished it on us or not.’
      • ‘As bad as he felt, he didn't wish his misery on anyone else.’
      • ‘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've had my loans called twice in my career, and I wouldn't wish the experience on anyone.’
      • ‘‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘He added, ‘The closer you were to facing and accepting death, the harder it was to wish the fear on anyone else.’’
      • ‘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.’’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Modern political speech is so dopey, so banal, that it's no wonder why people wish a pox on all houses.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Not because I wish that misery on them, but because I think this would be one of those miseries that lightens upon being shared.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘He does drive a taxi though, I wouldn't wish that fate on anyone.’
      • ‘The trauma just goes on and on and I wouldn't wish it on anyone.’


  • 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.’
    • ‘The idea of the lake stretching across the whole world was only a desire, a wish shared by everyone in Belryno.’
    • ‘We both expressed our wish to continue these talks and to find sensible solutions.’
    • ‘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 are a mixed bag of people, with different ideals, hopes, wishes and dreams.’
    • ‘We care enough about Jackie that we simultaneously hope that his wish to go to war will be granted, and that it never will.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘This can have the effect of leaving letters unread, the opposite of the desired wish of the writer.’
    • ‘There is agreement in the wish to overcome the current situation as anomalous.’
    • ‘But it must be more than a hope or a wish, more than knowing that it is good for you.’
    • ‘You however did, and as I'm twenty I no longer have to follow your every wish and whim.’
    • ‘We expect and hope that Australia and Indonesia have the same wish.’
    • ‘We all shared a wish, a hope, and a dream to bring back justice, freedom and most of all fun.’
    • ‘And his only wish now is to continue telling stories till the last breath.’
    • ‘Of course that occurs, but people sell their land because, as the treaty assumed, it may be their wish and desire to do so.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘She told me she was comfortable talking to him, and he supported her wish to continue getting her education.’
    • ‘They knew his fears and best hopes, his wishes and his dying dreams.’
    • ‘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.’
    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’
      • ‘We're not always successful in answering all their wishes and desires, but we do work very closely with them.’
      • ‘The commanding general wishes to talk to her himself, but it is of low priority, with the fight so close at hand.’
      • ‘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?’
      • ‘Their increasing need for independence may make kids want to defy their parents' wishes or instructions as a way of asserting their independence.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘I respect and understand the director's wishes about a commentary track, I just don't agree with him.’
      • ‘We not only acknowledge but also predict the desires and wishes of our customers.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘I am afraid it is more to my father's wishes than mine.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘In determining whether a patient's expressed wishes are applicable to the circumstances, they must be considered in their context.’
      • ‘Well, individually or collectively, the musicians were entirely responsive to the wishes of their Music Director.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      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’
      • ‘Legends have it that if one stands in the circle and makes a wish, it would come true.’
      • ‘She shuts her eyes and makes a wish in her head then blows out the candles.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘You said yourself you don't have to come and get anyone that makes a wish.’
    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’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Our good wishes go to the Northern Rivers community and we hope Lismore continues to flourish and prosper in the future.’
      • ‘Anne thanked Delia for her good wishes and complimented her on her hard work and success as captain.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘‘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.’
      • ‘We, of course, express our good wishes to the couple.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Thank you to everyone who's got in touch to offer their good wishes.’
      • ‘Good wishes, good luck and every success in the future to all those graduates who were celebrating their success in the village last week.’
      • ‘The Commissioner deserves our good wishes and support for his success.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘I don't have an email address for him but let's all share good wishes via comments for him to heal up fast.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘There have been thousands of messages expressing support, good wishes, a joke or whatever they wanted.’
      • ‘Thanks for the good wishes about teaching, hope the birthday went well.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Good wishes are extended to all from the area who are in hospital just now.’
      • ‘Before All-Ireland finals, strangers in the street would express their good wishes.’
      • ‘The community wish them joy, good wishes and congratulations.’
    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.

      • ‘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.’
      • ‘As they say though, 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.’
      • ‘The West Highland Way walk was great because as well as giving to charity, everyone joined together in wishing me well.’
      • ‘If you don't care about your own emotional well-being, my just wishing you well won't really help you.’
      • ‘There was that lovely feeling of togetherness with everyone wishing her well, all delighting in the latest chapter in her life.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Where the wish is father to the thought such logic is convincing.’


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