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Definition: Curse or vengeance; in the waning moon.

Pronunciation: Wayn-ee-ohn


Wanion was first used sometime before the 1590’s.  It derives from the Old English word waniand, often used in the phrase in the waniand which meant “in the period of the waning moon”.  Waniand was the present participles of wanien, to wane.  The waning of the moon was considered an unlucky and inauspicious time, hence the link between the word wanion and the meaning of curse or vengeance.

Why this word?

“Double, double toil and trouble; Fire burn, and cauldron bubble,” really stuck with me upon reading Macbeth for the first time.  While the witches are supposed to be standing in a cavern, I always mentally pictured them standing outside in the light of the moon.  It seemed a far spookier and more ethereal placement for such nebulous figures.  While the waxing and waning of the moon no longer has the same connotations as it historically once did, the moon itself still provides an air of mystery that the sun cannot provide.

How to use the word wanion?

“In the wanion the witch stirred her cauldron and cast the spell.” 

“In the wanion the robber opened the window as quietly as possible, only to find that the inhabitants were awake, armed, and angry.”

“I will never forget what you have done here and will find you with a wanion and make you regret ever stepping foot in here.” 

“A wanion on your house!  You will pay for the day you spilled the blood of my house!”


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Written by Kate Fulton

Kate Fulton has a bachelor’s degree in classics and psychology from the University of Massachusetts and is working on a library science degree from Simmons College. She has always been fascinated by words- their usage, spelling, and etymology. Kate may be one of the few people who enjoyed the verbal section of the SAT. Yes, she is a word geek. Currently she bores her husband and young daughter with her love of vocabulary.


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