wan·​na·​be ˈwä-nə-ˌbē How to pronounce wannabe (audio)
variants or less commonly wannabee
: a person who wants or aspires to be someone or something else or who tries to look or act like someone else
: something (such as a company, city, or product) intended to rival another of its kind that has been successful
especially : one for which hopes have failed or are likely to fail

Example Sentences

an entrepreneur who seems to have made his fortune mainly by giving how-to-get-rich lectures to entrepreneurial wannabes
Recent Examples on the Web The Teen Queen is an aspiring Project Manager, a Catherine Tramell in Basic Instinct wannabe. Carrie Wittmer, Vulture, 4 Apr. 2022 Kate Wallis, the popular girl with a charmed life who suddenly goes missing, and Jeanette Turner, the nerdy wannabe who is implicated in Kate’s disappearance. Tribune News Service, cleveland, 18 Apr. 2021 Or that more than 3,000 TEDx events take place every year, with up to 20 wannabe Malcolm Gladwells participating in each one? Dan Lyons, Time, 19 Jan. 2023 Ziggy, who isn’t really political at all, is eventually exposed as a posturing wannabe. Michael O'sullivan, Washington Post, 17 Jan. 2023 An Andy Goldsworthy wannabe, or perhaps a hyperactive 10-year-old, has erected about 100 small cairns out by the Hall of Horrors, carbuncles in an otherwise unblemished landscape. Cheri Lucas Rowlands, Longreads, 20 Jan. 2023 Anwar has given Abbott $6.2 million since the former state attorney general began fundraising openly as a gubernatorial wannabe in 2011. Dallas News, 14 Oct. 2022 El Nino is a wannabe: assessing the impact of some warmer H2O in the Central Pacific on California rainfall is fuzzy. Tom Yulsman, Discover Magazine, 14 Dec. 2014 That, Jen says, is why her husband, University of Utah assistant football coach Sharrieff Shah, is so angry with Chris Harrington and his Housewife-wannabe wife, Angie Harrington. Scott D. Pierce, The Salt Lake Tribune, 14 Dec. 2022 See More

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'wannabe.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

Word History


from the phrase want to be

First Known Use

1976, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of wannabe was in 1976

Dictionary Entries Near wannabe

Cite this Entry

“Wannabe.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/wannabe. Accessed 27 Mar. 2023.

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