wan·​na·​be | \ ˈwä-nə-ˌbē How to pronounce wannabe (audio) \
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 Clifford falls for a local rapper wannabe named Lil’ Murda (J. Alphonse Nicholson), who keeps pushing the Pynk to play his latest track. Kristen Baldwin, EW.com, "P-Valley is a shrewd, Southern-fried stripper saga: Review," 6 July 2020 Those well versed in quick Toyotas will note the Prime is also quicker than the wannabe-racer Camry TRD. David Beard, Car and Driver, "Tested: 2021 Toyota RAV4 Prime is Quicker Than Supra 2.0," 2 July 2020 Rashida Jones as Barris’ wannabe Instagram influencer wife is a delight, and the young actress (Iman Benson) at its center is a star. Thr Staff, The Hollywood Reporter, "'Now See This' Newsletter: An ‘Upload’ to Download and a Trip to ‘Hollywood’," 1 May 2020 The weekly livestream has all sorts of projects and activities for intrepid Scouts (and Scout wannabes), from cooking to knot-tying to music. Emily Matchar, Smithsonian Magazine, "The Best Places for Your Kids to Learn Real Life Skills Online," 4 May 2020 There’s a class for adult wannabe ballerinas looking for a fun workout while learning a few steps of classic ballet. Cheryl Hall, Dallas News, "TEDxSMU plans a grand finale with speakers taking on climate change, epidemics," 19 Feb. 2020 Postseason tournaments are important for scouts to separate legitimate NBA prospects from the wannabes. Connor Letourneau, SFChronicle.com, "What the NBA shutdown means for the Warriors: ‘too many questions’," 12 Mar. 2020 Trump courtiers and wannabes might mill around the lobby of the hotel on Pennsylvania Avenue that bears his name. Washington Post, "Partisan warfare rages just steps away. But at the Monocle, ‘You check all that at the door.’," 31 Jan. 2020 Try to imagine how special that was for a teenager and radio wannabe! Karen Bliss, Billboard, "Canadian Radio Veteran Bobby Gale Dies in Road Accident," 15 Apr. 2019

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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Time Traveler for wannabe

Time Traveler

The first known use of wannabe was in 1976

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Statistics for wannabe

Last Updated

10 Jul 2020

Cite this Entry

“Wannabe.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/wannabe. Accessed 12 Jul. 2020.

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More Definitions for wannabe


How to pronounce wannabe (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of wannabe

informal : 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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More from Merriam-Webster on wannabe

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for wannabe

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with wannabe

Spanish Central: Translation of wannabe

Nglish: Translation of wannabe for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of wannabe for Arabic Speakers

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