American English

Definition of wish verb from the Oxford Advanced American Dictionary



    Verb Forms present simple I / you / we / they wish
    he / she / it wishes
    past simple wished
    -ing form wishing
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  1. 1[transitive] (not usually used in the present progressive tense) to want something to happen or to be true even though it is unlikely or impossible wish (that)… I wish I were taller. I wish I was taller. I wish I hadn't eaten so much. “Where is he now?” “I only wish I knew!” I wish you wouldn't leave your clothes all over the floor. She really wished she had stayed in college. He sat by the phone, wishing it would ring. “That” is almost always left out, especially in speech. wish somebody/something/yourself + adj. He's dead and there's no point in wishing him alive again. wish somebody/something/yourself + adv./prep. She wished herself a million miles away.
  2. 2[intransitive, transitive] (formal) to want to do something; to want something to happen You may stay until the morning,if you wish. “I'd rather not talk now.” “(Just) as you wish.” wish to do something This course is designed for people wishing to update their computer skills. I wish to speak to the manager. I don't wish (= I don't mean) to be rude, but could you be a little quieter? wish somebody something She could not believe that he wished her harm. wish somebody/something to do something He was not sure whether he wished her to stay or go.
  3. 3[intransitive] wish (for something) to think very hard that you want something, especially something that can only be achieved by good luck or magic She shut her eyes and wished for him to get better. If you wish really hard, maybe you'll get what you want. There's no use in wishing for the impossible. He has everything he could possibly wish for. Be careful what you wish for. You just might get it (= and find that you really don't want it).
  4. 4[transitive] to say that you hope that someone will be happy, lucky, etc. wish somebody something I wished her a happy birthday. Wish me luck! wish someone well We wish them both well in their retirement.
  5. GrammarwishAfter the verb wish in sense 1, a past tense is always used in a that clause:Do you wish (that) you had a better job?In more formal English many people use were after I, he, she, it instead of was:I wish he were here tonight.Idioms
    I wish! (informal)
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    used to say that something is impossible or very unlikely, although you would like it to be possible synonym if only “You'll be finished by tomorrow.” “I wish!”
    you wish! (informal)
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    used to tell someone that something is impossible or very unlikely, although that person might want it to be possible Sell that junk? You wish!
    Phrasal Verbswish something awaywish somebody/something on somebody
See the Oxford Advanced Learner's Dictionary entry: wish