Main definitions of wan in English

: wan1WAN2



  • 1(of a person's complexion or appearance) pale and giving the impression of illness or exhaustion.

    ‘she was looking wan and bleary-eyed’
    • ‘Outside, the once splendid Nevski Prospekt (St. Petersburg's O'Connell Street) is in need of a lick of paint and seems to be trying desperately to become European, but its people are grey and wan.’
    • ‘Judging from his wan appearance, however, it was clear that the show had taken its toll.’
    • ‘Warhol devised the most telling face of fame - wan, bleached out, with a camera hanging from the neck.’
    • ‘‘After several days of flying in space, the astronauts may look wan and sallow, so medical staff will put make-up on them to make them look ruddy,’ the newspaper said.’
    • ‘Anyway - if you feel the need to be pasty, wan and outraged, you can always write to me and tell me how you feel.’
    • ‘Doyle still slept, looking wan and exhausted, but that hint of a smile was still there.’
    • ‘Estelle grew from a wan, sickly child into a lovely maiden, her skin pale as the moonlight and hair as raven as the starless night.’
    • ‘When he arrived home that night, he looked wan, slightly more drained than usual.’
    • ‘Körbes, normally luminous on the State Theater stage, here never seemed to come alive, looking wan and passive, and was completely overshadowed by either.’
    • ‘Eli reminded me of an older Bob Dylan, his size and wan complexion and his face.’
    pale, pallid, ashen, white, white as a sheet, grey
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    1. 1.1 (of light) pale; weak.
      ‘the wan dawn light’
      • ‘There might not be as many shadows to cling to, but the light from lamp posts was wan and deceiving; he could hide well enough if he needed to.’
      • ‘She leaned forward, elbows on knees and her head in the wan moonlight as she smiled.’
      • ‘One need only stand in the aisle marked Produce to understand how the wan light obscuring the bruised fruit makes all of our decisions more difficult.’
      • ‘Eric Gautier photographed it, with frequent and unnecessary use of the wan light and monochromatic effects that are now high-fashion clichés of their own.’
      • ‘Instead, our wars exposed the limits of our capability and cast a wan light on many of our cherished illusions.’
      • ‘Sunlight filtered upon their tired, wan faces and I knew I looked the same.’
      • ‘The stones on the bottom of the brook were flat and greenish in the wan afternoon light.’
      • ‘It could just be the light, but she looks pretty wan to me, and too skinny - like the one in four women under 25 who now describe themselves as vegetarians.’
      dim, faint, weak, feeble, pale, watery, wishy-washy
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    2. 1.2 (of a smile) lacking enthusiasm or energy.
      ‘he gave a wan smile’
      • ‘Amy gave her a wan smile, and moved to stand beside her. her eyes were red from crying, and her armour was mangled in more than a few places.’
      • ‘Sighing wearily, Isabella shifted her gaze to her mother with a wan smile on her lips.’
      • ‘The secretary looked up momentarily and gave her a wan smile.’
      • ‘She almost manages a wan smile, but misses a bit on the execution.’
      • ‘When deep brown eyes finally opened and she stared up at him, she gave him a wan smile that caused a cringe as the sore skin on her cheek stretched greatly.’
      • ‘‘Hello, Susanna,’ Westley said, a wan smile on his face.’
      • ‘John insisted on kissing them as well, bringing the first wan smiles to their faces after the events of the night.’
      • ‘Elsa shook it off with a shrug of the shoulders and a wan smile.’
      • ‘She smiled a wan sort of smile, and glanced around at what should be the living room.’
      • ‘The smile she gave Wanda Bryk was the rueful, wan, chastened smile of someone who had just come through a crying spell.’
      • ‘Allyson paused, listening to the soft melody, a shy smile spreading over her wan features.’
      • ‘Other bands might get away with this on intensity alone, but Harcourt's straightforward, predictable manner leaves his wan material desperately lacking.’
      • ‘I gave him a wan smile, ‘As well as can be expected, I suppose.’’
      • ‘Often the answer would be in the form of a wan smile or silence.’
      • ‘Tamani offered him a wan smile, ‘Thank you, Sir Pontelau.’’
      • ‘In another image, two bored children gaze at the camera, the older one giving the camera a wan smile.’
      • ‘The woman sitting next to me, a blonde South African wearing jeans and fashionable spectacles looks at me, raises an eyebrow, gives me a wan smile and gets up to leave.’
      • ‘‘I actually didn't think that was a big deal,’ says Pottruck, a wan smile playing across his broad face.’
      • ‘I wasn't, though I probably just murmured something vague in reply, and I may have given a wan smile.’
      • ‘She gazes toward, but beyond the viewer with a slightly wan and wistful smile, as though she has a secret somewhere deep inside.’
      • ‘She gave him a wan smile when she saw him, and lifted herself to a sitting position carefully.’
      • ‘Sarah looked up from her conversation with Jake with a wan smile.’
      • ‘‘Come on then,’ he said, and gave her a wan smile.’
      • ‘He glanced over his shoulders at his slightly meaner looking co-workers and offered Mary a wan smile.’
      • ‘But her gaze cleared, and she managed a wan smile.’
      • ‘‘Total dedication,’ she said with a somewhat wan smile: she had come in on the day of my visit despite being in intense pain from a suspected slipped disc.’
      • ‘My light-hearted offer to provide a dumpster was usually met with a wan smile.’
      • ‘But he gives her a wan smile, the best he can manage under the circumstances.’
      • ‘Ellen suppressed another shudder and gave a wan smile that she hoped he would take to mean the week would be a long one for her.’
      • ‘‘No, I didn't know that,’ he says quietly, offering a wan smile.’
      • ‘He gave Jean a wan smile before grabbing a baguette at the table.’
      • ‘With a wan smile, Delaney removed her license from her wallet and showed it to him.’
      • ‘And so, I walked in without my customary bright smile, wan, blinking hard.’
    3. 1.3literary (of the sea) without lustre; dark and gloomy.


Old English wann ‘dark, black’, of unknown origin.




Main definitions of wan in English

: wan1WAN2



  • 1Computing
    Wide area network.

  • 2Nigeria (international vehicle registration).