wag·​gish ˈwa-gish How to pronounce waggish (audio)
: resembling or characteristic of a wag
a waggish friend
a waggish prose style
: done or made in waggery or for sport : humorous
waggish spoofs of popular songs
waggishly adverb
waggishness noun

Did you know?

The Dark History of Waggish

One who is waggish acts like a wag. What, then, is a wag? It has nothing to do with a dog’s tail; in this case a wag is a clever person prone to joking. Though light-hearted in its use and meaning, the probable source of this particular wag is grim: it is thought to be short for waghalter, an obsolete English word that translates as gallows bird, a gallows bird being someone thought to be deserving of hanging. The wag in waghalter is the familiar wag having to do with movement, and halter is another word for a noose.

Examples of waggish in a Sentence

a waggish disposition that often got him into trouble as a child
Recent Examples on the Web His simple line drawings—in contrast with painterly images more common to the times—and waggish humor also made way for the eerie and fanciful later work of William Steig and ultimately for the refinement of Saul Steinberg’s sharp wit. Françoise Mouly, The New Yorker, 28 Aug. 2023 That is an untitled image by the waggish Italian artist Maurizio Cattelan, from 1999, and the poor guy being displayed, with a heretical hint of crucifixion, is a gallery owner from Milan—a kindred spirit for Nemo, who is equally stuck. Anthony Lane, The New Yorker, 17 Mar. 2023 Trendy, vapid Chazelle sentimentalized a token Mexican immigrant in Babylon, but Jordan and waggish co-screenwriter William Monahan, who scripted Scorsese’s The Departed, plays with ethnicity (those Irish mugs, Lange’s perfect brogue, and Cumming’s perfect Southern twang). Armond White, National Review, 17 Feb. 2023 His sense of humor occasionally got him in trouble; according to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, he was fired from his administrative job after publishing a waggish column about teacher evaluations at the university, and taught for another year before retiring in 1990. Washington Post, 3 Sep. 2021 Its history of dubious picks combined with the organization’s laughably low barrier to entry have earned the group a waggish reputation. Nick Schager, Vulture, 21 Feb. 2022 And there’s this interesting tone that a lot of coverage has had about this idea of happy-go-lucky waggish pranksters suddenly dealing with something very serious. Seth Abramovitch, The Hollywood Reporter, 28 Nov. 2022 Variation after variation test every tool these dancers have, layered over with waggish character dancing pulling from Polish mazurka and Russian hopak, to name a few. Lauren Warnecke, chicagotribune.com, 4 Mar. 2022 Black and white and set to nervous, waggish piano music, her cast of still-photography characters comes to life. Brian T. Allen, National Review, 12 Feb. 2022 See More

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

Word History

First Known Use

1589, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of waggish was in 1589


Dictionary Entries Near waggish

Cite this Entry

“Waggish.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/waggish. Accessed 25 Sep. 2023.

Kids Definition


wag·​gish ˈwag-ish How to pronounce waggish (audio)
: displaying or done in a spirit of good-humored mischief
waggish pranks

More from Merriam-Webster on waggish

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!