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

My question has always been why some Jason Blum wannabe doesn’t just make a deal with a studio to make a bunch of cheap ($5 million and under) romantic comedies, just as Blum did with Universal and horror. Alissa Wilkinson, Vox, "Why romantic comedies matter," 29 Aug. 2018 In the clip, the wannabe celebs alternate between belting their hearts out, butting heads over their competing egos, and casually dropping the types of emotional truth bombs that seem to characterize every single reality show about following dreams. Andrea Park, Glamour, "Netflix Releases Trailer for Reality Series Westside," 11 Oct. 2018 The show followed wannabe designers who work to make the best clothes in different challenges. Kathleen Joyce, Fox News, "Heidi Klum and Tim Gunn leave 'Project Runway' to join Amazon for new series," 7 Sep. 2018 Though the businesses that lined the route often catered to families, the road still attracted its share of Jim Stark and Johnny Strabler wannabes. Ashlea Halpern, Condé Nast Traveler, "Long Live Route 66," 19 July 2018 This was soon followed by an email from another 2020 Democratic presidential wannabe, Sen. Kamala Harris. Karl Rove, WSJ, "Whom Do Red-State Democrats Fear Most?," 11 July 2018 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

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

30 Nov 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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More from Merriam-Webster on wannabe

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with wannabe

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for wannabe

Spanish Central: Translation of wannabe

Nglish: Translation of wannabe for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of wannabe for Arabic Speakers

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).


living or existing for a long time

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