wan·na·be | \ˈwä-nə-ˌbē \
variants: or less commonly wannabee

Definition of wannabe 

1 : a person who wants or aspires to be someone or something else or who tries to look or act like someone else

2 : 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

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Examples of wannabe in a Sentence

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

Eventually stretching to 16 novels, the Pretty Little Liars juggernaut followed the misadventures of four teenage wannabes who cope with blackmail threats and worse after their Queen Bee mysteriously vanishes. Maureen Corrigan, Philly.com, "'The Elizas' by Sara Shepard: No 'Pretty Little Liars,' in fact not much at all," 2 May 2018 In this new series, Hilton introduces tales of wannabe singers, model-actresses, rappers, photographers, designers, and DJs trying to make it in modern day Los Angeles. Matthew Gilbert, BostonGlobe.com, "This week: Paris Hilton, a psychic, and sweet treats," 8 July 2018 Do the Red Hills have to transition from Napa’s invisible understudy to Napa’s wannabe imitator? Esther Mobley, San Francisco Chronicle, "The rise of the Red Hills of Lake County," 1 June 2018 James chose the Lakers and the Western Conference, a cluttered mess of wannabe teams chasing the dynastic Warriors, instead of the Sixers or even the Cavs who would have provided James a clearer path to the NBA Finals from the East. David Haugh, chicagotribune.com, "LeBron James opens door in East — so now the Bulls must re-sign Zach LaVine," 2 July 2018 UpWiththeSkimm #SkimmLife Name: Jessica Biel Job: Mama Bear, actress, producer, wannabe alpinist, consummate student of the @WomanCareGlobal #ThenWhoWill campaign. Heran Mamo, Billboard, "Every Photo Justin Timberlake & Jessica Biel Have Shared of Son Silas," 6 July 2018 Elastigirl even has her own wannabe superhero fan, Voyd, played by Sophia Bush, who understands why Voyd admires Elastigirl. Bryan Alexander, USA TODAY, "At last! Elastigirl stretches to new heights as star superhero of 'Incredibles 2'," 13 June 2018 His rivals painted Sadr as a thug and an amateur, a wannabe who was lucky enough to be a member of a vaunted clerical dynasty yet nevertheless struggled to hold onto its followers. Thanassis Cambanis, BostonGlobe.com, "How did Iraq’s Moqtada al-Sadr become a statesman? People just got used to him," 26 May 2018 That traps surface moisture and instability and prevents it from rising, choking off wannabe storms and leaving storm chasers disappointed. Matthew Cappucci, Washington Post, "Fire and rain: Here’s how a wildfire sparked a freak thunderstorm in Texas," 17 May 2018

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.

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First Known Use of wannabe

1976, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for wannabe

from the phrase want to be

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Dictionary Entries near wannabe





Wanstead and Woodford


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Statistics for wannabe

Last Updated

7 Sep 2018

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Time Traveler for wannabe

The first known use of wannabe was in 1976

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English Language Learners Definition of wannabe

: a person who tries to look or act like someone else (such as a famous person) : a person who wants to be a particular person or type of person

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Comments on wannabe

What made you want to look up wannabe? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


evasion of direct action or statement

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