I came across (a pretty sad) poem by Meggie Royer.

She writes:

I stood by as strangers stroked her muzzle and she wilted beneath their touch like she did once for mine.

For context: she writes about her dog here.

I interpret 'wilting' as something positive in this case. Can someone shed some light on this for me?

2 Answers 2


Of course, if someone's touch causes you to wilt, it means you, (here a dog), succumb to or give in to the touch. The dog likes it. He/she "melts".

Here the dog likes the touch of strangers and no longer reacts to her owner like she now does to those strangers.

It's positive for the strangers but not for her.


I interpret 'wilting' as something positive in this case.

That is correct. To "wilt", as far as humans and animals are concerned, is often used figurative simply means "to become weak or limp" for whatever reason.

Whereas for flowers and plants, the more literal sense of becoming weakened by lack of water or care, is clearly negative, in humans and animals, it is the context that creates the positive/negative aspect.

It was Ian Blake, however, who, without hesitation, gallantly rose and greeted her with a kiss.

"My darling, you are absolutely ravishing,” said he. Penelope practically wilted in his arms. It is amazing what a title will do for a man. Adventures in America, 1883 By Dr. John Raffensperger, Prof. Richard Krevolin

and in the negative:

Ah! gone, brief hours of joy never forgotten; lilies of my loves, wilted by insipidity; my sad and happy songs, smothered by my regrets; now I cannot even cry, I can’t even sing; I need to be insensitive to the pains of my love. Absolute Equality: An Early Feminist Perspective By Luisa Capetillo

To wilt is not common and, as you see above, tends to be used rather melodramatically when used figuratively in a positive context with people.

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