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

But thankfully the only injury suffered was to the pride of the wannabe perp. Sainted & Tainted Writers, Twin Cities, "Tainted: Theft of Grandpa’s handmade seat cushion at Twins game was a low blow," 14 Sep. 2019 Here's the thing—these two Ebola cure wannabes have proven effective enough (and amid a devastating, difficult-to-contain outbreak in the Congo)—that global health officials believe local residents will actually be willing to take them. Sy Mukherjee, Fortune, "A Promising Pair of Ebola Drugs Raises Hopes in Africa: Brainstorm Health," 12 Aug. 2019 Set in the world of richies and rituals, this slick slasher flick hinges on a marital game night, a midnight initiation every wannabe Le Domas has to endure. Katie Walsh, San Diego Union-Tribune, "Review: ‘Ready or Not’ sacrifices horror for irony and laughs to skewer the 1 percent," 22 Aug. 2019 The midseason trade deadline is looming and the front office is going to field offers for just about anyone who might fill a hole for a World Series aspirant or a wild-card wannabe. Peter Schmuck, baltimoresun.com, "Orioles move into second half with room to grow and some interesting possibilities," 11 July 2019 For 100 years, Versailles was the most extravagant palace in Europe, sparking the construction of many wannabes. Rick Steves, USA TODAY, "European royalty's most over-the-top summer retreats, from Versailles to Neuschwanstein," 8 July 2019 But the wannabe-TikTok has been downloaded just 187,000 times as of June, according to Sensor Tower. Eamon Barrett, Fortune, "Can TikTok Turn 950 Million Downloads Into a Booming Business?," 26 June 2019 Set in the world of richies and rituals, this slick slasher flick hinges around a marital game night, a midnight initiation every wannabe-Le Domas has to endure. Katie Walsh, Twin Cities, "1-percenter slasher flick ‘Ready or Not’ too sardonic to be taken seriously as satire," 20 Aug. 2019 Not faux drums played by Fluff the Marshmallow wannabe. Megan Stein, Country Living, "'The Voice' Fans Were So Confused by Bastille and Marshmello's Finale Performance," 19 Dec. 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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Wanstead and Woodford


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Statistics for wannabe

Last Updated

5 Oct 2019

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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

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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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

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