from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • intransitive v. To generate pus; suppurate.
  • intransitive v. To form an ulcer.
  • intransitive v. To undergo decay; rot.
  • intransitive v. To be or become an increasing source of irritation or poisoning; rankle: bitterness that festered and grew.
  • intransitive v. To be subject to or exist in a condition of decline: allowed the once beautiful park to fester.
  • transitive v. To infect, inflame, or corrupt.
  • n. A small festering sore or ulcer; a pustule.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • v. To become septic; to become rotten.
  • v. To worsen, especially due to lack of attention.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. A small sore which becomes inflamed and discharges corrupt matter; a pustule.
  • n. A festering or rankling.
  • intransitive v. To generate pus; to become imflamed and suppurate.
  • intransitive v. To be inflamed; to grow virulent, or malignant; to grow in intensity; to rankle.
  • transitive v. To cause to fester or rankle.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • To become a fester; generate purulent matter, as a wound; suppurate; ulcerate.
  • To become corrupt; generate rottenness; rot.
  • To become more and more virulent; rankle, as a feeling of resentment or hatred.
  • To cause to fester: as, exposure festers a wound.
  • To cause to rankle, as a feeling of resentment.
  • n. An ulcer; a rankling sore; a small purulent tumor; more particularly, a superficial suppuration resulting from irritation of the skin, the pus being developed in vesicles of irregular figure and extent.
  • n. The act of festering or rankling.
  • n. Same as festue.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • n. a sore that has become inflamed and formed pus
  • v. ripen and generate pus


Middle English festren, from festre, fistula, from Old French, from Latin fistula.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
From Old French festre, from Latin fistula (Wiktionary)



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  • Just be thankful that Bob's your uncle.

    September 27, 2011

  • Fester Bestertester! I remember him! (said Uncle Fester)

    December 15, 2007

  • So did I.

    November 2, 2007

  • Oh, I meant only the POS tagging option, chained_bear. :-)

    November 2, 2007

  • I'll post this somewhere else too, but John: I hope you DO keep the tagging option whether you keep the WordNet stuff or not.

    November 2, 2007

  • This word, though somewhat grotesque is one of my all time favorites. Festering wound. Gives me chills.

    November 2, 2007

  • I like it! Although I guess we're bound to see this kind of thing happen now and then.

    John, are you still planning on keeping the taggable parts of speech option now that you've set this up?

    November 2, 2007

  • It can be both, according to WordNet (WordNet: sounds kind of Orwellian, no?).

    For a given word WordNet will tell you what part of speech is most common (its "polysemy count"), and it's usually spot on. I have the Word pages set up to figure out which part of speech is most common, and display that definition. This usually works, but for some reason it's claiming that the noun and verb forms of 'fester' have an equal polysemy count. Which strikes me as wrong: I agree with you, it's much more common as a verb.

    So, I guess WordNet ain't perfect. Better than nothing, though, I think. What do you think?

    November 2, 2007

  • Wait--the definition of fester is a noun? I never heard that. I thought it was a verb, meaning to become inflamed/infected. Is it a noun as well?

    November 2, 2007

  • I had a small pet rodent named Fester. She was very lovely and tame.

    November 2, 2007

  • Fester Bestertester, MAD magazine character.

    November 2, 2007

  • :-)

    November 1, 2007

  • gunther's rage on the line at the BMW factory was mounting because the boss kept after him to work fester and fester.

    November 1, 2007