Main definitions of wag in English

: wag1wag2WAG3

wag1

verb

  • 1(especially with reference to an animal's tail) move or cause to move rapidly to and fro.

    no object ‘his tail began to wag’
    with object ‘the dog went out, wagging its tail’
    • ‘Lucy was waiting by the door, tail wagging as always when we got home.’
    • ‘And in the meantime, Chuck is going bananas, his tail wagging like a crazed propeller, his face the most precious combination of anticipation and curiosity.’
    • ‘His tail began to wag as I scratched behind his ears.’
    • ‘The Carmichaels walk down the path with three other dogs, their skeletal tails wagging furiously.’
    • ‘At the sight of us, they all begin to bark, tails wagging in instant happiness.’
    • ‘You can see quite clearly when the puppy is wagging its tail.’
    • ‘When my eyes meet hers, her tail starts to wag excitedly, but she dares not move her body in fear of spoiling the moment.’
    • ‘Her tail began to wag as he approached, and he cautiously dropped onto one knee before reaching to untangle her leash.’
    • ‘Diane barks and wags her bushy tail in happiness as she jumps on Louis Crawford's lap in the van and she licks his face with love and a little slobber.’
    • ‘Apparently tails are wagging over the show, as it has been renewed for another season.’
    • ‘Rex bounded back the way he had come, tail wagging.’
    • ‘The puppy sniffed his hand cautiously and immediately his tail began to wag.’
    • ‘Kero got up, tongue hanging from the side of his mouth as he pranced over to her, his small tail wagging back and forth rapidly.’
    • ‘I collect the morning paper and my two mutts greet me, their tails wagging back and forth in a frenzy.’
    • ‘And now Fizz is about to set tails wagging having been nominated for the Woman's Best Friend award in a canine competition.’
    • ‘Then I come back, and the tails wag so hard that it begins with the middle of their dog bodies.’
    • ‘The climbers soon ski up to us, red plastic sleds wagging like tails behind them.’
    • ‘Poppy's tail was wagging at a rate only expected at top international competition level, so I knew that whatever it was, it was an animal.’
    • ‘Her tail wagged rapidly as she licked Kourin's face.’
    • ‘Family dog greets me with tail wagging manically.’
    swing, sway, shake, move to and fro, swish, switch, quiver, twitch, flutter, waver, whip
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1with object Move (an upwards-pointing finger) from side to side to signify disapproval.
      ‘she wagged a finger at Elinor’
      • ‘Instead wag a disapproving finger at the bull run in commodities.’
      • ‘‘That's not how you behave on the dancefloor,’ she says, wagging her finger.’
      • ‘When I first told them a couple of years ago, I really expected my grandma to wag her finger at me.’
      • ‘He even went to Wall Street to wag his finger at corporate wrongdoers, calling for legislative reform.’
      • ‘The others looked at him, and he raised one hand to wag an index finger under Kaeritha's nose.’
      • ‘In friendly jest, one of the waiters came up to her and wagged his finger gently, indicating that the establishment did not approve.’
      • ‘Siya pretended to be disappointed and wagged her finger at Mel.’
      • ‘"Not just once," said Palios, wagging a finger at Barry.’
      • ‘News outlets shake their heads and wag a disappointed finger when violence erupts in our streets yet the entertainment industry uses those same elements as a mainstay for its Friday night feature.’
      • ‘People within banks have access to lots of information, and those who wagged the finger at Mr Soden last year should hope they don't make enemies within their bank.’
      • ‘The mother started screaming, and moving towards me, she was wagging her finger in my face and I thought she was going to hit me.’
      • ‘‘Suit yourself,’ Howie said, wagging a finger in admonishment as he moved away.’
      • ‘He made a flourished bow and then humorously wagged his finger in response to her question.’
      • ‘I can't recall ever seeing so many people wagging a figurative finger at Tom as they have in response to his call for the resignation of Harvard president Larry Summers.’
      • ‘Angry and wagging his finger at presenter Jon Snow, Mr Campbell tears into a ‘fundamental attack upon the integrity of the government’.’
      • ‘I left people with a little something to think about, without wagging my fingers or quoting Leviticus.’
      • ‘Friedman wags an accusing finger at subsidised theatres such as the National.’
      • ‘He wagged his finger at her in mock disapproval.’
      • ‘He was shown gesticulating toward the judge, and at times wagging his finger angrily.’
      • ‘I am wagging my finger in your direction Democrats and Republicans!’
      shake, wave, waggle, wiggle, wobble, flourish, brandish, raise
      View synonyms

noun

  • A single rapid movement from side to side.

    ‘a chirpy wag of the head’
    • ‘Nikko broke the silence with a small whine and a wag of his tail.’
    • ‘But the crowning glory is when the pointer turns around and gives an approving look and tail wag before he trots off to pick up another bird.’
    • ‘She looked up at him sadly, acknowledging his gesture with a half wag of her tail.’
    • ‘No matter how many Chechens may be slaughtered, we content ourselves with a polite wag of the finger, shrug our shoulders, then concede that massacre is an internal matter.’
    swing, sway, shake, swish, switch, quiver, twitch, flutter, waver, whip, oscillation, vibration, undulation
    waggle, wiggle, wobble, wave, shake, flourish, brandish
    View synonyms

Phrases

  • how the world wags

    • dated How affairs are going or being conducted.

      ‘there is no very good theory of how the world wags these days’
      • ‘I have a vivid recollection of having in an evil or unguarded moment promised to do that which my soul abhors - to write a letter informing you how the world wags here below.’
      • ‘If you want to know how the world wags, and who's wagging it, here's your answer.’
      • ‘The second stage knows how the world wags but not why.’
      • ‘And because we know that this is how the world wags - that even the least networked of us is connected to everyone if he is connected to at least one other person.’
      • ‘I want you to be curious about how the world wags its tail in different lands.’
  • tongues wag

    • Used to convey that people are gossiping about someone or something.

      ‘this is a small island and tongues are beginning to wag’
      • ‘The singer's unusual haircuts have set tongues wagging since his band shot to fame with the hit single Why Does it Always Rain on Me?’
      • ‘His absence from the most prestigious festival in the film industry calendar was guaranteed to get the tongues wagging.’
      • ‘So far that hasn't happened, but Kane's deliberately low profile to date has set tongues wagging.’
      • ‘Tongues are wagging in art circles following the announcement that Kathryn Smith is the Standard Bank Young Artist for 2004.’
      • ‘In 1866 Cosima moved in with Wagner on Lake Lucerne, and they let the tongues wag.’
      • ‘‘The New York Times’ is reporting that tongues are wagging in Hollywood about whether he is actually harming his career.’
      • ‘Helen Hunt plays the temptress who sets tongues wagging.’
      • ‘Needless to say, tongues begin to wag about Barrie's behaviour.’
      • ‘This extraordinary sounding record had tongues wagging all over the place.’
      • ‘I worry endlessly about what other people think about me; I didn't want the tongues to start wagging.’

Origin

Middle English (as a verb): from the Germanic base of Old English wagian ‘to sway’.

Pronunciation

wag

/waɡ/

Main definitions of wag in English

: wag1wag2WAG3

wag2

noun

dated
  • A person who makes jokes.

    ‘one wag shouted, ‘On that count you've got about three supporters!’’
    • ‘At one point a wag from the crowd shouted ‘Is there a footballer in the house?’’
    • ‘One wag even implored referee Iain Heard to blow for full-time… at half-time.’
    • ‘Some wags joked that the ‘9 on Nine’ panel looked like some sort of reality television show.’
    • ‘Janey was sure that it was a joke by the wags in the Forensics labs - well reasonably sure.’
    • ‘The good thing about gallows humour is no matter how bad things get you can always find some wag ready to crack a joke.’
    humorist, comedian, comedienne, comic, funny man, funny woman, wit, jester
    joker, jester, wit, humorist, comic, comedian, comedienne, funny man, funny woman, wisecracker, punner, jokester
    View synonyms

verb

[WITH OBJECT]Australian, NZ
informal
  • Play truant from (school).

    • ‘Many years ago, when I would wag school occasionally, I'd enter the chat rooms on MSN.’
    • ‘And we're not just talking about wagging a day here or there.’
    • ‘We got caught out when we were wagging school, a police officer had caught us in town.’
    • ‘Children wagged school and chased each other through the flooded streets, while their parents headed to the centre of town to see the damage.’
    • ‘The next day, after another sleepless night of coughing, we both decided to wag work and uni.’

Origin

Mid 16th century (denoting a young man or mischievous boy, also used as a term of endearment to an infant): probably from obsolete waghalter ‘person likely to be hanged’ (see wag, halter). The verb dates from the late 20th century.

Pronunciation

wag

/waɡ/

Main definitions of wag in English

: wag1wag2WAG3

WAG3

noun

informal
  • A wife or girlfriend of a sports player, typically characterized as having a high media profile and a glamorous lifestyle.

Origin

Early 21st century: from the acronym WAGs ‘wives and girlfriends’.

Pronunciation

WAG

/waɡ/

  • Gambia (international vehicle registration).

Origin

From West Africa Gambia.