1530s, alteration of Middle English wydderen "dry up, shrivel" (late 14c.), intransitive, apparently a differentiated and special use of wederen "to expose to weather" (see weather (v.)). Compare German verwittern "to become weather-beaten," from Witter "weather." Transitive sense from 1550s. Related: Withered; withering; witheringly.
Old English wisnian, weosnian "to wither, dry up, waste away," from Proto-Germanic *wisnon (source also of Old Norse visna "to wither," Old High German wesanen "to dry up, shrivel, wither;" German verwesen "to decay, rot"). Related: Wizened.
"become gray, wither," 1610s (with an isolated instance from late 14c.), from gray (adj.). Related: Grayed; graying.
contraction of I have, by 1620s in poetry (George Wither); in prose by 1700.
Middle English seren, from Old English searian (intransitive), of plants, "dry up, to wither, become shriveled" (a sense now rare or obsolete), from Proto-Germanic *saurajan (source also of Middle Dutch soor "dry," Old High German soren "become dry"), from root of sear "dried up, withered" (see sere).
The transitive meaning "cause to wither, make dry" is from early 15c. The meaning "to brand, to burn by hot iron" is recorded from c. 1400, originally especially of cauterizing wounds; the figurative use from this, "deaden, deprive of sensibility" is from 1580s. The cookery sense of "dry or wither (meat, etc.) by application of heat, scorch the surface of" is recent. Related: Seared; searing.
1690s, "to fade, droop, wither," probably an alteration of welk "to wilt," probably from Middle Dutch or Middle Low German welken "to wither," cognate with Old High German irwelhen "become soft," from Proto-Germanic *welk-, from PIE root *welg- "wet" (see welkin). Transitive sense of "cause to fade or droop" is from 1809. Related: Wilted; wilting.
"afflict with blight, cause to wither or decay," 1660s (implied in blighted), from blight (n.). Figurative sense of "exert a baleful influence on" is by 1712. Related: Blighted; blighting.
before vowels scler-, word-forming element meaning "hard," from Latinized form of Greek sklēros "hard, harsh," which is related to skellein "to dry up, parch" (from PIE *skle-ro-, from root *skele- "to parch, wither").
"withering, liable to decay, ephemeral," 1727, from Latin marcescentem (nominative marcescens), present participle of marcescere "to wither, languish, droop, decay, pine away," inchoative of marcere "to wither, droop, be faint," from Proto-Italic *mark-e-, from PIE root *merk- "to decay" (source also of Sanskrit marka- "destruction, death;" Avestan mareka- "ruin;" Lithuanian mirkti "become weak," merkti "to soak;" Ukrainian dialect morokva "quagmire, swamp," Middle High German meren "dip bread into water or wine," perhaps also Middle Irish mraich, Welsh brag "a sprouting out; malt").
also immarcessible (but this is considered less correct), "unfading, imperishable," early 15c., from Late Latin immarcescabilis from assimilated form of in- "not" (see in- (1)) + stem of Latin marcescere "to begin to wither, grow feeble, pine away" (see marcescent).