hag·​gard | \ ˈha-gərd How to pronounce haggard (audio) \

Definition of haggard

 (Entry 1 of 3)

1 of a hawk : not tamed
2a : wild in appearance
b : having a worn or emaciated appearance : gaunt haggard faces looked up sadly from out of the straw— W. M. Thackeray



Definition of haggard (Entry 2 of 3)

1 : an adult hawk caught wild
2 obsolete : an intractable person


biographical name
Hag·​gard | \ ˈha-gərd How to pronounce Haggard (audio) \

Definition of Haggard (Entry 3 of 3)

Sir (Henry) Rider 1856–1925 English novelist

Keep scrolling for more

Other Words from haggard


haggardly adverb
haggardness noun

Synonyms for haggard

Synonyms: Adjective

Visit the Thesaurus for More 

Did You Know?


Haggard comes from falconry, the sport of hunting with a trained bird of prey. The birds used in falconry were not bred in captivity until very recently. Traditionally, falconers trained wild birds that were either taken from the nest when quite young or trapped as adults. A bird trapped as an adult is termed a haggard, from the Middle French hagard. Such a bird is notoriously wild and difficult to train, and it wasn't long before the falconry sense of haggard was being applied in an extended way to a "wild" and intractable person. Next, the word came to express the way the human face looks when a person is exhausted, anxious, or terrified. Today, the most common meaning of haggard is "gaunt" or "worn."

Examples of haggard in a Sentence

Adjective She looked tired and haggard. We were shocked by his haggard appearance.
Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective And in that moment - clad in a Patagonia puffer jacket, unshaven and slightly haggard, seeming equal parts exhausted and exasperated and even perhaps a bit contrite - Ted Cruz did, in fact, look a lot like a dad. Author: Ashley Parker, Anchorage Daily News, "One night in Cancun: Ted Cruz’s disastrous decision to go on vacation during the Texas storm crisis," 19 Feb. 2021 His piercing eyes, set deeply in his haggard face under a heavy black turban, stared belligerently at the camera. Amir Ahmadi Arian, The New York Review of Books, "The Martyrdom of Soleimani in the Propaganda Art of Iran," 30 Sep. 2020 Officials often disappear into the system for months at a time, emerging white haired and haggard to confess to a series of offenses ahead of a criminal trial. James Griffiths, CNN, "Detention of CGTN anchor shows that in Xi Jinping's China, not even the propagandists are safe," 1 Sep. 2020 On his way to a wedding, at the very door of the banquet hall, a man is buttonholed by a haggard and compelling stranger. James Parker, The Atlantic, "‘The Rime of the Ancient Mariner,’ Rebooted," 13 May 2020 Tall and charismatic, Mr. Mattei might not seem natural as a haggard soldier prone to paranoia and hallucinations. New York Times, "Review: The Searing Beauty of Kentridge’s ‘Wozzeck’ at the Met," 29 Dec. 2019 My girlfriend is tired and haggard by the time the child goes home, and this causes friction in our relationship. Annie Lane, oregonlive, "Dear Annie: 7-year-old who stays up way past midnight needs structure and rules," 19 Mar. 2020 And these are just the immediate concerns of what will likely be a haggard nation. Jason Linkins, The New Republic, "It’s Joe Biden’s Party Now," 17 Mar. 2020 While their haggard parents waited to check in, bricks became strewn all over the lobby floor. Jason Wilson, Washington Post, "Playmobil’s Plan to Infiltrate Your Workplace," 23 Dec. 2019 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun Finally, a sweating and haggard Bourdain trudges to the table with his cauldron of stew. Kanishk Tharoor, The Atlantic, "Anthony Bourdain’s Extreme Empathy," 10 June 2018 This is what Ignatieff finds in Rio’s favelas, in the municipal workers of Fukushima, in the haggard, persistent survivors of genocidal violence in Bosnia. James Traub, New York Times, "Is Globalization Drawing Us Together or Tearing Us Apart?," 11 Oct. 2017 The toll was evident on Snyder, who had been transformed from a radiant persona to gaunt and haggard and clearly troubled by the end. Vahe Gregorian, kansascity.com, "Vahe Gregorian: After long fall from Mizzou, Quin Snyder reinvents himself the hard way," 5 May 2017 HAGGARD: Ian Kinsler Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat or Instagram? Brian Gosset, star-telegram.com, "Player Spotlight: Grapevine grad Heather Haggard," 5 July 2017

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'haggard.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

See More

First Known Use of haggard


1567, in the meaning defined at sense 1


1567, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for haggard

Adjective and Noun

Middle French hagard

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about haggard

Time Traveler for haggard

Time Traveler

The first known use of haggard was in 1567

See more words from the same year

Listen to Our Podcast about haggard

Statistics for haggard

Last Updated

25 Feb 2021

Cite this Entry

“Haggard.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/haggard. Accessed 22 Apr. 2021.

Style: MLA
MLACheck Mark Icon ChicagoCheck Mark Icon APACheck Mark Icon Merriam-WebsterCheck Mark Icon

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for haggard



English Language Learners Definition of haggard

: looking very thin and tired especially from great hunger, worry, or pain


hag·​gard | \ ˈha-gərd How to pronounce haggard (audio) \

Kids Definition of haggard

: having a hungry, tired, or worried look … she stared down at the table at a loss for words and then, at last, she raised a haggard face.— Mary Norton, The Borrowers

Keep scrolling for more

Comments on haggard

What made you want to look up haggard? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


Test Your Vocabulary

Name that Thing: Flower Edition

Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

Universal Daily Crossword

A daily challenge for crossword fanatics.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!