plural wah-wahs
: a fluctuating muted effect produced on a brass instrument by use of a mute (see mute entry 2 sense 1) or on an electric guitar by use of a pedal (see pedal entry 1 sense 1b) connected to an amplifier
[Elizabeth] Start uses a lot of "effects"—trumpet wah-wahs, … glissandi galore.John Y. Lawrence
… begins with funk guitar wah-wahsPhilip Brandes
often used before another noun
a wah-wah effect
In 1931, [American jazz trumpeter Clyde McCoy] recorded "Sugar Blues," utilizing his muted wah-wah sound, which became his theme song.William F. Lee
: a mute or pedal that is used to produce a wah-wah
He [Miles Davis] began to play his trumpet through the wah-wah, which Jimi [Hendrix] had used, trying to sound like Jimi.Yunus Momoniat
When the … grinnin' bluesman kicks on a wah-wah during a band performance, it's almost too cool to bear.Guitar Player
often used before another noun
A saxophonist clicks his keys; … a trumpeter manipulates a wah-wah mute; …Alex Ross
The wah-wah pedal can be heard clearly at 2:15 during the third eight-bar section of Hendrix's longest guitar solo on this recording ["All Along the Watchtower"].Timothy Rice and Dave Wilson

Examples of wah-wah in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web Cobain keeps the Arabic scale employed by Dutch psych-rockers Shocking Blue in their 1969 original, but replaces the sitar-heavy riff with a wah-wah pedal and a Boss delay. Ana Leorne, Spin, 21 Sep. 2023 The next year, Cadet released a Muddy Waters album with wah-wah and fuzz pedals. John Seabrook, The New Yorker, 11 Sep. 2023 One of them, Attila, was a duo featuring Joel playing distorted organ lines with a wah-wah pedal through a Marshall stack, backed by drummer Jon Small. Al Shipley, SPIN, 22 Feb. 2023

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'wah-wah.' 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

1924, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of wah-wah was in 1924

Dictionary Entries Near wah-wah

Cite this Entry

“Wah-wah.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 30 Nov. 2023.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

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