noun (1)
\ ˈwäsp How to pronounce wasp (audio) , ˈwȯsp \

Definition of wasp

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : any of numerous social or solitary winged hymenopterous insects (especially families Sphecidae and Vespidae) that usually have a slender smooth body with the abdomen attached by a narrow stalk, well-developed wings, biting mouthparts, and in the females and workers an often formidable sting, and that are largely carnivorous and often provision their nests with insects or spiders killed or paralyzed by stinging for their larvae to feed on — compare bee
2 : any of various hymenopterous insects (such as a chalcid or ichneumon wasp) other than wasps with larvae that are parasitic on other arthropods


noun (2), often attributive
\ ˈwäsp How to pronounce WASP (audio) , ˈwȯsp \
variants: or Wasp

Definition of WASP (Entry 2 of 2)

sometimes disparaging
: an American of Northern European and especially British ancestry and of Protestant background especially : a member of the dominant and the most privileged class of people in the U.S.

Illustration of wasp

Illustration of wasp

Noun (1)

wasp 1

In the meaning defined above

Other Words from wasp

Noun (1)

wasplike \ ˈwäsp-​ˌlīk How to pronounce wasp (audio) , ˈwȯsp-​ \ adjective

Noun (2)

Waspdom \ ˈwäsp-​dəm How to pronounce WASP (audio) , ˈwȯsp-​ \ noun, sometimes disparaging
Waspish \ ˈwä-​spish How to pronounce WASP (audio) , ˈwȯ-​ \ adjective, sometimes disparaging
Waspishness noun, sometimes disparaging

Examples of wasp in a Sentence

Noun (2) Most of the members of the club are wealthy WASPs. The college had been known as a bastion of WASP privilege.
Recent Examples on the Web: Noun This wasp gets its common name from hunting cicadas to supply its young with a food source. Tim Johnson, Chicago Tribune, 6 Aug. 2022 For Mandi, the decision to be armed in the classroom seemed like a better solution than wasp spray or a tube sock. New York Times, 31 July 2022 Those are the cocoons of the wasp larvae that have fed on the caterpillar. Megan Hughes, Better Homes & Gardens, 30 June 2022 The sporty splice collection releases on June 7 and includes a $3,980 wasp-waist jacket and $1,250 platform sandals—items that aren’t quite Soulcycle ready. Jacob Gallagher, WSJ, 27 May 2022 Each parasitoid wasp species tends to prefer one or a few hosts. New York Times, 17 Feb. 2022 Some studies suggest that urbanization and development are harming wasp populations, Brock said. Jen Rose Smith, CNN, 7 May 2021 For example, Rogue Space Systems is developing a wasp-like spacecraft called Fred Orbot, with solar panels that resemble wings. Ramin Skibba, Wired, 17 Nov. 2021 In each ecosystem, the plant served as food for two species of aphids, which in turn fed a parasitoid wasp. Anna Funk, Scientific American, 31 Mar. 2022 See More

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'wasp.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

First Known Use of wasp

Noun (1)

before the 12th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Noun (2)

1948, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for wasp

Noun (1)

Middle English waspe, from Old English wæps, wæsp; akin to Old High German wafsa wasp, Latin vespa wasp

Noun (2)

white Anglo-Saxon Protestant

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The first known use of wasp was before the 12th century

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Last Updated

11 Aug 2022

Cite this Entry

“Wasp.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/wasp. Accessed 13 Aug. 2022.

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More Definitions for wasp


\ ˈwäsp How to pronounce wasp (audio) , ˈwȯsp \

Kids Definition of wasp

: a winged insect related to the bee and ant that has a slender body with the abdomen attached by a narrow stalk and that in females and workers is capable of giving a very painful sting


\ ˈwäsp, ˈwȯsp How to pronounce wasp (audio) \

Medical Definition of wasp

: any of numerous social or solitary winged insects (especially families Sphecidae and Vespidae) of the order Hymenoptera that usually have a slender smooth body with the abdomen attached by a narrow stalk, well-developed wings, biting mouthparts, and in the females and workers an often formidable sting

More from Merriam-Webster on wasp

Nglish: Translation of wasp for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of wasp for Arabic Speakers

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about wasp


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