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 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 He is treated as an oracle by wannabe cryptocurrency moguls who mob him in public. Rob Copeland, WSJ, "Olaf Carlson-Wee Rode the Bitcoin Boom to Silicon Valley Riches. Can He Survive the Crash?," 11 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 Baptista’s Jazz Club in 1930s Chicago is the backdrop for this tale of sisters Kate, a composer, and Bianca, a chanteuse wannabe, who just want to make their dreams come true without being smothered by unsuitable suitors. Kerry Reid, chicagotribune.com, "Summer theater 2018: Our top 25 shows to see," 23 May 2018 There were a few gaffes, but nothing that would rise to the level of candidacy-killing flubs by statewide wannabes in the past. Dara Kam, OrlandoSentinel.com, "In governor's debate, Democrats avoid fatal gaffes," 19 Apr. 2018 But only time will tell if Heinz reaches its threshold of 500,000 votes in favor of putting the combo on shelves in the U.S. It's called Fry Sauce you non Utahn wannabes. Nicole Blanchard, idahostatesman, "Sorry, Heinz. 'Mayochup' already exists, and it's actually called fry sauce | Idaho Statesman," 11 Apr. 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 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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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).


to make a temporary encampment

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