wag

1 of 3

verb

wagged; wagging

intransitive verb

1
: to be in motion : stir
2
: to move to and fro or up and down especially with quick jerky motions
3
: to move in chatter or gossip
scandal caused tongues to wag
4
archaic : depart
5
: waddle

transitive verb

1
: to swing to and fro or up and down especially with quick jerky motions : switch
a dog wagging its tail
specifically : to nod (the head) or shake (a finger) at (as in assent or mild reproof)
2
: to move (the tongue) animatedly in conversation
wagger noun

wag

2 of 3

noun (1)

: an act of wagging : shake

wag

3 of 3

noun (2)

1
: wit, joker
2
obsolete : a young man : chap

Examples of wag in a Sentence

Verb The dog wagged its tail. She wagged her finger at the children as she scolded them. He wagged his head back and forth. The dog's tail began to wag excitedly. Noun (1) the dog gave its tail a single wag before it flopped back down Noun (2) some wag wrote a droll satire on the scandal for the newspaper
Recent Examples on the Web
Verb
As a scrum scrum ensued behind the night, Montour mocked Boston’s Brad Marchand by wagging his tongue — an impersonation of Marchand licking Ryan Callahan back in 2018 during a 2018 playoff series against the Tampa Bay Lightning. Jordan McPherson, Miami Herald, 12 May 2024 Many African leaders prefer this approach to Western democracies’ finger wagging on democracy, human rights, and engaging with China and Russia. Matthew T. Page, TIME, 10 May 2024 Bing sniffed at it, daintily removed it from the bun, and began to chomp on it, so that the end of it wagged like a cigar. Nick Paumgarten, The New Yorker, 6 May 2024 There’s also some finger wagging for the West’s missed opportunity in not taking this former KGB operative seriously. Frank Rizzo, Variety, 23 Apr. 2024 Humans, even subconsciously, might have enjoyed the rhythm of dogs wagging their tails, researchers said. Kyle Melnick, Washington Post, 22 Jan. 2024 As soon as the dog was pulled back over, he is seen trotting away, wagging his tail. Li Cohen, CBS News, 22 Mar. 2024 Throughout the video, Luna's tail doesn't stop wagging. Kelli Bender, Peoplemag, 30 Jan. 2024 For dog owners, few sights are more heartwarming than their pooch wagging its tail. Max Bennett, Discover Magazine, 7 Feb. 2024
Noun
The limping boy, the wag with the bear, the cad with the under look, the Londoner, the libertine, the would-be liberator: take your pick. Anthony Lane, The New Yorker, 26 Feb. 2024 Suggesting excitement, eagerness, or simply pure joy, the tail wag has long been emblazoned as the default symbol of canine carefreeness. Max Bennett, Discover Magazine, 7 Feb. 2024 Commenting on the discovery, one online wag suggested this could become part of a new trend. Chas Newkey-Burden, The Week Uk, theweek, 24 Jan. 2024 But a handful of TikTok wags not-so-politely called Sweeney a liar. Chris Gardner, The Hollywood Reporter, 9 Feb. 2024 And, dogs don’t just do it as an indicator of joy: A new study published in Biology Letters reviewed the existing body of literature to outline several theories pinpointing the mechanisms behind the infamous tail wag. Max Bennett, Discover Magazine, 7 Feb. 2024 Modern dogs have stubby snouts and ultra-expressive eyes; their ears flop, their tails wag. Katherine J. Wu, The Atlantic, 16 Jan. 2024 May December’s total shutout at the SAG nominations led wags to wonder why Hollywood actors weren’t responding to a movie that painted them as vampiric narcissists. Vulture, 12 Jan. 2024 Hang it by the fireplace, and watch as tails wag in festive delight. Cristian Esteban, Rolling Stone, 19 Oct. 2023

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'wag.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History

Etymology

Verb

Middle English waggen; akin to Middle High German wacken to totter, Old English wegan to move — more at way

Noun (2)

probably short for obsolete English waghalter gallows bird, from English wag entry 1 + halter

First Known Use

Verb

13th century, in the meaning defined at intransitive sense 1

Noun (1)

1589, in the meaning defined above

Noun (2)

circa 1553, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of wag was in the 13th century

Dictionary Entries Near wag

Cite this Entry

“Wag.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/wag. Accessed 27 May. 2024.

Kids Definition

wag

1 of 3 verb
wagged; wagging
: to move or swing to and fro or up and down especially with quick jerky movements
the dog wagged its tail
wagged his finger as he scolded
wagger noun

wag

2 of 3 noun
: a wagging movement

wag

3 of 3 noun
Etymology

Verb

Middle English waggen "to be in motion, move about"

Noun

probably a shortened form of obsolete waghalter "a person who should be hanged"

More from Merriam-Webster on wag

Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
Love words? Need even more definitions?

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