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

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

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 On a visit last month, the AP saw dozens of haggard children working in an artisanal mine 20 kilometers (12 miles) outside Kapoeta town as well as children doing other hard labor throughout the city. Sam Mednick, Fox News, "In South Sudan, some children work in mines to survive," 12 Sep. 2018 As the foreboding chorus of Karl Orff’s Carmina Burana fills the open-air amphitheater, a haggard witch appears on an overhanging television screen to issue a blood-chilling curse. Charlie Campbell / Kunming, Time, "Finding Love in the Kingdom of the Little People," 1 June 2018 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

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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Statistics for haggard

Last Updated

21 Jun 2019

Look-up Popularity

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 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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