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

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 Liotta played a local police detective who at first finds Rogen’s character an annoying wannabe, but slowly and begrudgingly grows to have sympathy and even a little respect for him. Mark Olsen, Los Angeles Times, 26 May 2022 Willa’s account of what happens when the leader goes missing is intercut with scenes from her earlier life, involving her influencer-wannabe cousins, dumpster diving, and her infatuation with a Harvard professor. The New Yorker, 9 May 2022 The law firm, says Josh Gerben, founder of Gerben Intellectual Property, is likely to be fronting for someone else, perhaps a squatter who hopes to trademark the name, Uncle Vanya, and then sell it to a McDonald’s wannabe in Russia. Washington Post, 16 Mar. 2022 Others see him as a vigilante and police wannabe who never should have been armed in Kenosha in the first place. The Associated. Press, Arkansas Online, 2 Nov. 2021 Jones turns both sides of Two-Face into a limp wannabe Joker. Darren Franich, EW.com, 27 Jan. 2022 Haven’t resurrected this Hendrix wannabe in many a day. Paul Daugherty, The Enquirer, 26 Jan. 2022 Others see him as a vigilante and police wannabe who never should have been armed in Kenosha in the first place. The Associated. Press, Arkansas Online, 2 Nov. 2021 Central to the wannabe-rousing tone is Tommy Emmanuel and Don Harper’s pushy score, which is awash in elegiac acoustic guitar, tender orchestral strings and melodic flutes. Nick Schager, Variety, 20 Jan. 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.

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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The first known use of wannabe was in 1976

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Dictionary Entries Near wannabe



Wanstead and Woodford

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Last Updated

4 Aug 2022

Cite this Entry

“Wannabe.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/wannabe. Accessed 10 Aug. 2022.

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More from Merriam-Webster on wannabe

Nglish: Translation of wannabe for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of wannabe for Arabic Speakers


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