+0
Yesterday, I read a dictionary definition of the word "languish". It confused me. The definition is "to be forced to stay somewhere or suffer something unpleasant for a long time." Is the dictionary saying the word has the following two meanings? "to be forced to stay somehere" and "to be forced to suffer something unpleasant for a long time." Or is it saying it has the following two meanings?: "to be forced to stay somewhere unpleasant for a long time" and "to be forced to suffer something unpleasant for a long time". I'm asking because I want to improve my English. My thoughts are that the definition has the latter 2 meanings. If I am wrong, can somebody please explain why?

Many thanks
Comments  
languish 1 to experience long suffering: She languished in prison for fifteen years. 2 to be or become weaker: The plants are languishing because of lack of water. [From Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English.]
Thank you so much for your response. I guess what I'm trying to do is understand the structure of the sentence. I'm trying to find out if "unpleasant for a long time" refers to "to be forced to stay somewhere" as well as "suffer something". In other words, is the dictionary saying that the word means "to be forced to stay somewhere unpleasant for a long time" and "to be forced to suffer something unpleasant for a long time"?

I'm trying to learn more about the sentence structure.

Thanks again.
Try out our live chat room.
In current American usage, the verb "languish" does not emphasize the "suffering" component, rather, it suggests a kind of lackadaisical, lazy repose somewhere:

"He languished in prison for 3 yrs. while awaiting trial."

"The bill languished in committee for months without any action on it."

The above contexts are the only ones where this verb is typically seen nowadays in the US. Other usages are rather outdated today.
That's interesting to hear. The definition in question is from a British dictionary.

Perhaps I have not communicated well. I am questioning the sentence structure. I'm trying to work out if the dictionary is saying that the word can have the following two meanings: "to be forced to stay somewhere unpleasant for a long time" and "to be forced to suffer something unpleasant for a long time".

This is how I would interpret the following:

"to be forced to stay somewhere or suffer something unpleasant for a long time"
My interpretation is: to be forced to stay somewhere unpleasant for a long time or suffer something unpleasant for a long time.

"to be forced to stay somewhere, or suffer something unpleasant for a long time"
My interpretation:
first meaning: to be forced to stay somewhere
second meaning: to be forced to suffer something unpleasant for a long time.

"to be forced to stay somewhere, or suffer something unpleasant, for a long time"
My interpretation:
first meaning: to be forced to stay somewhere for a long time

second meaning: to be forced to suffer something unpleasant for a long time.

Perhaps I didn't make clear what I'm trying to understand. If the above interpretations are incorrect, please correct me. I'm not trrying to waste anybody's time.

I eagerly await a response.

Thank you very much for your time. It is appreciated.
The definitions are correct:

1.: to be forced to stay somewhere unpleasant for a long time.
2.: to be forced to suffer something unpleasant for a long time.

Examples:

1. to be forced to stay somewhere for a long time:

"He languished at the airport for 12 hrs. because of the severe snowstorm."

2. to be forced to suffer something unpleasant for a long time:

"He languished under his stepfather's mistreatment for 3 yrs."

In current American usage only the 1. sense is typically heard. The 2. sense is rarely heard today. And in the 1. sense, the idea of "suffering" is not emphasized in current American usage: He languished at the airport for hrs., forced to stay there by the snowstorm. He was bored and frustrated by the delay, but he was not really "suffering."
Students: We have free audio pronunciation exercises.
AnonymousThe definitions are correct:1.: to be forced to stay somewhere unpleasant for a long time.2.: to be forced to suffer something unpleasant for a long time.Examples:1. to be forced to stay somewhere for a long time:"He languished at the airport for 12 hrs. because of the severe snowstorm."2. to be forced to suffer something unpleasant for a long time:"He languished under his stepfather's mistreatment for 3 yrs."In current American usage only the 1. sense is typically heard. The 2. sense is rarely heard today. And in the 1. sense, the idea of "suffering" is not emphasized in current American usage: He languished at the airport for hrs., forced to stay there by the snowstorm. He was bored and frustrated by the delay, but he was not really "suffering."
Thank you so much. At least now I know that my interpretations were not wrong. All weekend I was worried that I had been misinterpreting things since learning English! Thank you very much.
I think I should mention that your interpretation is wrong in a sense. You seem to insist that the verb "languish" carries with it the sense of "suffering." It does not have this sense in English - regardless of your dictionary's definition. For example, there are other related words like, languid, languidly, languidness, languor, and languorous, and none of these words have the sense of "suffering." Rather, these words all give the sense of lethargy, insipidness, dissipation, etc., but not suffering, per se. Note the sentence:

"He languished under his stepfather's mistreatment for 3 yrs."

This sentence gives the sense of a lack of thriving, a lack of loving, a lack of care, neglect, dissipation, etc., but not "suffering," per se. The verb does not carry that sense. Thus it would be incorrect to say:

"He languished under his stepfather's brutal mistreatment for 3 years." (The addition of the word "brutal" makes the sense one of actual suffering.)

"He lived languidly under his stepfather's brutal mistreatment."

"He lived a languid existence under his stepfather's brutal mistreatment."

"His life was languorous under his stepfather's brutal mistreatment."

You would have to say:

"He suffered under his stepfather's brutal mistreatment."

If you want to convey the sense of "suffering," you cannot use the word "languish," because it does not carry that sense. You have to use other words.