hag·​gard | \ˈha-gərd \

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 \

Definition of Haggard (Entry 3 of 3)

Sir (Henry) Rider 1856–1925 English novelist

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Other Words from haggard


haggardly adverb
haggardness noun

Synonyms for haggard

Synonyms: Adjective

cadaverous, emaciated, gaunt, skeletal, wasted

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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


She looked tired and haggard. We were shocked by his haggard appearance.

Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective

Gregorio, a 62-year-old former carpenter who lives alone, looked haggard. Sarah Varney, CNN, "Isolation leads to despair, suicide among older Puerto Ricans," 11 May 2018 Everywhere last November show allegedly haggard and sick birds crowded into tight spaces. Washington Post, "Activists charged with stealing turkey from Utah plant," 4 May 2018 Last May he was arrested for driving under the influence and his haggard face was paraded around the world in his police mugshot. Rob Hodgetts, CNN, "Tiger Woods' Masters return evokes 'Tiger mania' of old," 3 Apr. 2018 Similarly, there will be a trio of haggard publicists, all working to clear their client's good name. Rebecca Farley, refinery29.com, "American Crime Story: Who Bit Beyoncé," 28 Mar. 2018 The puppets, by design, look noble and haggard; life on Trash Island isn’t easy. Naomi Fry, The New Yorker, "The Alpha Mutts of Wes Anderson’s “Isle of Dogs”," 16 Mar. 2018 Sean Bean is in excellent Sean Bean form as detective Marlott, playing the character as half-haggard half-heroic. Lincoln Michel, GQ, "The Great Bingeable Gothic Mystery on Netflix," 17 Mar. 2018 Others are disquieting bit players given promine through tight closeups in the film's boxy aspect ratio, who say nary a word, their marked and haggard faces saying more than any dialogue ever could. Boyd Van Hoeij, The Hollywood Reporter, "'The Weak Ones' ('Los debiles'): Film Review | Berlin 2018," 21 Feb. 2018 Once in a while, among all those haggard people lining up at the truck to get thin sandwiches and warm soup, Taylor would see his grizzled brother — unshaven, dressed in rags, standing out in the cold, waiting in line with the others. John Carlisle, USA TODAY, "Food truck hands out help and hope to people in need," 2 Nov. 2017

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.

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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


Middle French hagard


see haggard entry 1

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Time Traveler for haggard

The first known use of haggard was in 1567

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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 \

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

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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).


a private place of worship

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