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

Definition of haggard

 (Entry 1 of 2)

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 2)

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

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Other Words from haggard


haggardly adverb
haggardness noun

Synonyms for haggard

Synonyms: Adjective

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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 The Ukrainian teacher appears haggard, exhausted, and overwhelmed by the trauma of witnessing Russia’s deadly military advance on his hometown of Bucha, the suburb northwest of Kyiv whose name has become synonymous with Russian cruelties in Ukraine. Scott Peterson, The Christian Science Monitor, 27 Apr. 2022 Visions of screaming Valkyries (model Ineta Sliuzaite) and a haggard He-Witch (Ingvar Sigurðsson) pack a hallucinatory punch amid the film’s otherworldly locales. Peter Debruge, Variety, 11 Apr. 2022 Pine is terrific, seeming to age over the course of the meal and become visibly more haggard as his options narrow, while Newton superbly balances professional detachment with the emotional debris underneath. David Rooney, The Hollywood Reporter, 6 Apr. 2022 So Dickens says, on this day when the sun seems to have died, and the haggard glow of gaslight can barely brighten the mist. Michael Gorra, The New York Review of Books, 6 Apr. 2022 This haggard old sponge simply can’t be expected to absorb everything. Ali Francis, Bon Appétit, 4 Mar. 2022 Alone in his man cave, Burnham taped himself over months of quarantine—looking, like many of us, increasingly haggard and despairing—even counting down the seconds to his thirtieth birthday on camera. Michael Schulman, The New Yorker, 30 Nov. 2021 Or he could be bundled into a trade as the Guardians search for ways to improve their haggard offense from 2021. Paul Hoynes, cleveland, 24 Nov. 2021 Among them were drivers, like Richard Chow, who had gone on hunger strike and were now visibly haggard, and some who were too weak to get around without wheelchairs. Caroline Spivack, Curbed, 3 Nov. 2021 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun After 20 years away, Odysseus (Fiennes) washes up on the shores of Ithaca, haggard and unrecognizable. Scott Roxborough, The Hollywood Reporter, 28 Apr. 2022 Stepping onto the Screaming Trees‘ tour bus, singer Mark Lanegan has the half-haggard look of a man somewhere in the middle of a long tour. Jim Greer, SPIN, 10 Apr. 2022 Although bruised by rough weather and haggard from lack of sleep, both Yeager, 34, and Rutan, 48, appeared amazingly fit and in good spirits. San Diego Union-Tribune, 24 Dec. 2021 Darrow stood across the grassy square, looking haggard and paunchy. Eliza Griswold, The New Yorker, 26 Oct. 2021 Merkel, looking shell-shocked and haggard, was almost mute. Margaret Talbot, The New Yorker, 11 Aug. 2021 Merkel, looking shell-shocked and haggard, was almost mute. Margaret Talbot, The New Yorker, 11 Aug. 2021 Merkel, looking shell-shocked and haggard, was almost mute. Margaret Talbot, The New Yorker, 11 Aug. 2021 Merkel, looking shell-shocked and haggard, was almost mute. Margaret Talbot, The New Yorker, 11 Aug. 2021 See More

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.

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First Known Use of haggard


circa 1566, 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

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Time Traveler for haggard

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The first known use of haggard was circa 1566

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Last Updated

8 May 2022

Cite this Entry

“Haggard.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/haggard. Accessed 29 May. 2022.

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More Definitions for haggard


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

Haggard biographical name

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

Definition of Haggard

Sir (Henry) Rider 1856–1925 English novelist

More from Merriam-Webster on haggard

Nglish: Translation of haggard for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of haggard for Arabic Speakers

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about haggard


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