Definition of withering in English:



  • 1Intended to make someone feel humiliated; scornful.

    ‘a withering look’
    • ‘The reform accord was to have been the crowning jewel of the summit, but ended up the target of withering criticism from human rights groups and development organisations who complained of a squandered opportunity.’
    • ‘She sat down in her chair looking furious and just gave me a sneer and a withering look.’
    • ‘As a side note, Michael Sorkin later wrote a withering review of the The Charlottesville Tapes that took the form of a short play, with all dialog rendered in perfectly rhyming couplets.’
    • ‘As he turned to leave under the withering gaze of his disappointed superiors, it was discovered that he had not received the decryption code that accompanied the exercise.’
    • ‘Sometimes when we tried to speak Spanish we were met with withering sneers.’
    • ‘Taking on Garvey's mantle, Marley turned increasingly to Africa as his fame grew, addressing apartheid with the same withering scorn as American artists like Stevie Wonder and Gil Scott Heron.’
    • ‘Equally suggestive is her interpretation of Fanon's withering attack upon the postcolonial national bourgeoisie.’
    • ‘Combining foxy irony with withering disdain, McDiarmid presents us with the tragedy of a man for whom the mask has become the face.’
    • ‘She is a patient one, and dismissed me with a withering glance.’
    • ‘Unlike those who are rallying behind the president, Vidal retains his withering contempt for the man.’
    • ‘But it's Broom, with her self-depreciating good humour and withering disdain for modern materialism, that makes the book so compelling.’
    • ‘Dawson was admired during that torrid series for the gutsy way he willingly took on nightwatchman duties and fearlessly stood up to Australia's withering attack but he only claimed a total of five wickets at 79.60 runs apiece.’
    • ‘She gave me a withering look of utter contempt and proceeded to lecture me at length about the finer nuances of Mother's Day.’
    • ‘He gestured to Straeger, who was looking so disdainfully at her that Voelker could feel the withering contempt radiating from him as though he were telepathic himself.’
    • ‘But as the national obsession with Hansie's downfall naturally fades away, the withering gaze of the South African sporting public will return to its first love - the country's rugby team.’
    • ‘‘We take credit cards,’ chirped the tall curly brunette - the weaker of the two - who was quickly silenced by a withering glance.’
    • ‘Yet, Juan and I - engaged in some innocent hand-holding, far less provocative than what was happening onstage or in the aisles - were the subject of many withering glances.’
    • ‘Since November 2, the withering contempt of liberals for ordinary Americans has been astonishing.’
    • ‘Preparing to send Ikeda a withering glower to conceal the sting that throbbed through him after his partner's slight, Shanza jerked in fright instead when he was interrupted.’
    • ‘And the group also launched a withering attack on the NFU, claiming it had ‘presided over the collapse of British farming’ by colluding with the Government and big business.’
    scornful, contemptuous, full of contempt, mocking, sneering
    scathing, stinging, searing, blistering, biting, devastating
    supercilious, disdainful, superior, dismissive
    humiliating, mortifying
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  • 2(of heat) intense; scorching.

    ‘protective cover to escape withering heat’
    • ‘Despite the withering heat of the plains, still clearly to be seen at the foot of the mountain, this is cool trout country.’
    • ‘What makes the November 14 race different is it will be held in the cool of November instead of in the withering South Carolina heat of Labor Day weekend.’
    • ‘In contemporary North India, a couple of generations in the withering heat of the Gangetic plains turned the Great Moguls from hardy Turkic warlords into pale princes in petticoats.’
    • ‘As democracy and freedom continue to melt away beneath the withering heat of state-corporate power, it becomes ever more difficult to tell the truth.’
    • ‘Pan American takes the pound cake for minimalism, and has in the past proven perfect music for driving through desolate landscapes beneath withering heat, or traversing the domain of half-asleepness.’
    intense, extreme, ferocious, fierce, acute, strong, very great
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