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

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Other Words from haggard


haggardly adverb
haggardness noun

Synonyms for haggard

Synonyms: Adjective

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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

Adjective She looked tired and haggard. We were shocked by his haggard appearance.
Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective 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 According to detectives, the woman was blonde, in her late 50s or early 60s, rough and haggard looking and extremely thin, Melissa Daal said. Tonya Alanez, sun-sentinel.com, "Scooter driver on life support after crash; no ID for passenger who died," 10 Dec. 2019 Only Scott’s suit, baggier and more haggard than the fitted outfits of the extras, identified him as important. Christopher Borrelli, chicagotribune.com, "Behind the odd charm of the ‘Batwoman’ set in Chicago, even after they kicked me off," 2 Oct. 2019 Jeffrey Wright — at 53, younger, leaner and less towering, nowhere near haggard, and African-American — was not on those lists. Kathryn Shattuck, New York Times, "Jeffrey Wright on ‘The Goldfinch,’ ‘Westworld’ and James Bond," 6 Sep. 2019 The haggard spines of a once-proud pavilion now choked with encroaching vegetation. Mike Klingaman, baltimoresun.com, "Here’s the story behind the ruins in Patapsco Valley State Park," 3 Oct. 2019 Members of Orange County’s large Vietnamese community are furious after seeing images of Nguyen’s haggard face in a court photo and hearing word of his imprisonment via news bulletins from the Little Saigon media. Anh Do, latimes.com, "Last year he went on vacation to Vietnam. Now he faces 12 years in prison," 25 June 2019 For all the haggard songs and for all the fried eggs and bacon first thing in the morning for 35 years. Bonnie Stiernberg, Billboard, "Paul McCartney, Jonas Brothers and More Celebrate Father's Day: See the Tweets," 16 June 2019 Simple: few works of literature since Homer can match the piercing, unshakably humane gaze that Grossman turns on the haggard face of war. The Economist, "Vasily Grossman, the greatest bard of the second world war," 7 June 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.

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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

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 in 1567

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Last Updated

1 Feb 2020

Cite this Entry

“Haggard.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/haggard. Accessed 25 Feb. 2020.

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More Definitions for haggard


How to pronounce Haggard (audio)

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

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