Definition of wad in US English:



  • 1A lump or bundle of a soft material, used for padding, stuffing, or wiping.

    ‘a wad of cotton’
    • ‘I wrapped the finger in a wad of paper towels and held my hand above my head to slow the bleeding.’
    • ‘In the center of the fabric, put a balled up wad of fabric scraps, cotton, or yarn.’
    • ‘She pulled out a wad of paper towels to dry her hands.’
    • ‘These are plaited into single strands and a loose wad of silk tied to the end.’
    • ‘Have a large plate or tray with a wad of kitchen paper and a slotted spoon handy, and warm a serving dish.’
    • ‘She made her way over to the bank of washrooms and ran some cold water over a wad of paper towels.’
    • ‘When cleaning bathroom glass, buff it off with wads of clean newspaper.’
    • ‘She hops out into the garden, does a sort of discreet cough, and up comes a nice neat little wad of hair, no fuss, and no mess.’
    • ‘He grabbed a wad of toilet paper and folded it up, pressing it hard to slow the blood, then shrugged on his bathrobe and went back to his bed.’
    • ‘Kids play cricket on the road, young men idle at the edges, women scrub small wads of wet clothes beside buckets of precious water.’
    • ‘I must have had a thick wad of cotton stuffed in there.’
    • ‘You see people leaping out of the way as some great wad of canvas comes hurtling towards them.’
    • ‘He had vehemently denied that syringes used in the hospital ended up in adjacent medical shops, and that bloodied cotton wads made good stuffing for mattresses.’
    • ‘I caught the red mixture of blood and peroxide in the cotton wads and wiped it away.’
    • ‘See, the doctor not just bandaged Bobby himself, but stuck a big wad of gauze into the slice she'd put in him, to keep it open and to help it drain.’
    • ‘But Michael said, ‘She'll be fine,’ and he tore off a new wad of cotton.’
    • ‘From 1947 until 1961, disposable diapers were a wad of tissue paper sandwiched between two pieces of plastic film.’
    • ‘Four years ago he used his thumb-equipped excavator to push tree root wads into streambanks to control erosion for the first time.’
    • ‘How can you look good when you're basically a face protruding from an amorphous wad of cloth?’
    • ‘When you open it, you discover that half the space in the box is taken up with a massive wad of cardboard.’
    lump, mass, chunk, hunk, wedge, ball, clump, block, pat, brick, cube, bar, cake, slab, nugget, plug, pad, knob, gobbet, glob, dollop, cluster, nub
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1 A portion of chewing gum, or of tobacco or a narcotic when used for chewing.
      • ‘Denny tries to extract a used wad of chewing gum from its foil.’
      • ‘‘So,’ he said, pausing to shift a thick wad of what I presumed to be gum into his other cheek.’
      • ‘Several-day's growth of beard covered his jaw, which moved and bulged with the wad of tobacco he chewed.’
      • ‘He tilts his head back, sucks on his wad of tobacco, and grins at the handful of patrons shooting pool and shooting the breeze with him.’
      • ‘The army of arthropods slurped bits of organic material out of the muck, then ejected balls of it like so many wads of chewing tobacco.’
      quid, twist, plug, chew
      View synonyms
    2. 1.2historical A disk of felt or another material used to keep powder or shot in place in a gun barrel.
      • ‘Adapters and wads are available for most handgun and rifle calibers, and 12-gauge shotguns.’
      • ‘At some point, we acquired 50 Remington 12-gauge brass shells that accepted large pistol primers and 11-gauge wads.’
      • ‘Consequently, the shot leaves the wad as a tightly controlled column with minimal dispersion.’
      • ‘The tapered walls required the development of a new wad and the semi-hemispherical chamber required the use of slower powders to control pressures.’
      • ‘We were hoping that it would actually contain shot and a wad and other materials which occasionally happens.’
  • 2A bundle of paper, banknotes, or documents.

    ‘a thick wad of index cards’
    • ‘Well, here I am with a wad of cash in my pocket and no idea what to buy with it.’
    • ‘And, stuffing the wad of notes into my wallet and the few coins into my purse I said farewell to my old savings account and its pass book.’
    • ‘He took out his wallet, pulling out a wad of cash.’
    • ‘The money was arranged in a thick wad of bills, mostly ones and fives.’
    • ‘Then he peeled out a note from a thick wad of $50 and $100 bills, leaving a $2 tip.’
    • ‘We stomp about the office with a great wad of paperwork when, really, we're wondering whether to have tea or hot chocolate from the machine.’
    • ‘Nonetheless, it took several weeks, and no doubt a bigger than average wad of petrodollars, to convince him to finally sign on the dotted line.’
    • ‘I also had an almost embarrassingly large wad of cash stuffed into the waistband of my outfit.’
    • ‘The forms needed simply to record a change of address for my driving license come in a sizeable wad and, when submitted, need to be accompanied by three items of identification.’
    • ‘People are asking for wads of leaflets they can distribute themselves.’
    • ‘The first guard fumbled through his pockets, pulling out a wad of papers.’
    • ‘I handed over my little wad of notes, all sorted neatly and tucked inside the paying-in book.’
    • ‘Savage stood and pulled his wallet from his back pocket, throwing a wad of cash on the table.’
    • ‘The first of these, a small wad of book tokens, was easy to find.’
    • ‘She grabbed a wad of papers from the table beside her bed, and threw it at me.’
    • ‘Fernando reached for a napkin to wipe his eyes, then noticed a crumpled wad of bills under his coffee cup.’
    • ‘When Cruz opens his briefcase to be searched, he reveals a three-inch wad of notes.’
    • ‘She was clutching a wad of papers and the usual wireless, digital gear.’
    • ‘Then, along came a little man with a wad of banknotes who snapped up the laptop and went off congratulating himself.’
    • ‘Shortly afterwards the club received a vast wad of paperwork through the post from the organisation detailing safety checks and legislation with which the club was obliged to conform.’
    bundle, roll, bankroll, pile, stack, sheaf, pocketful, load
    View synonyms
    1. 2.1informal A large amount of something, especially money.
      ‘she was working on TV and had wads of money’
      • ‘It cost me quite a wad to make that trip to rendezvous with you and then the return trip home.’
      • ‘Novel though this was, you'd have needed wads of money to create a presentation like that.’
      • ‘The amount of intellectual energy invested in understanding the Soviet Union during the Cold War was a function of the wads of research money that was available for studying that topic.’
      • ‘I read that the ex boyfriend got a huge wad for his story.’
      • ‘Alternately, just throw wads of money at me for no reason at all.’
      • ‘Starting with the really big health care agreement, the dynamic duo will be using big wads of money to lure the provinces into joining their new programs.’
      • ‘Who could blame Setanta for being lured by the vast wads of Australian dollars that are undoubtedly on the table.’
      • ‘In California at least, the epicentre of the industry since the late 1980s, the idea of outlawing porn is inconceivable, given the wads of tax money it generates.’
      • ‘I am quite content to sit and catch up on all my reading, and I don't have to spend wads of money to do it.’
      • ‘Most of us don't have a large wad of disposable income left at the end of every month, which means, with the best will in the world, we can't give something to everyone.’
      • ‘Too many executives are paid just for having a pulse, handed wads of money by sleeping boards who mistake cutting jobs for real growth.’
      • ‘The owners have certainly not been quick to spend wads on new players.’
      • ‘Saves a lot of time, does that, as well as a fair wad of money.’
      • ‘A loosely regulated industry with wads of money to spend goes looking for friends in Washington - and doesn't have to look too hard.’
      • ‘I paid the guy huge wads of money, and ten minutes later we were out.’
      • ‘In consequence, his stories flow without being interrupted by long wads of prose trying to convey something - excellent stuff.’
      • ‘Just because they can point to the prior administration and say they took wads of Enron money does nothing to excuse the republicans.’
      • ‘He has such a beautiful wife that he thinks he needs wads of money to be truly worthy of her.’
      • ‘Iraq's currency has lost so much of its value that it takes enormous wads of it to buy anything of value.’
      • ‘Farmers and miners are protesting that wads of money are being spent on technology when all they really want is some decent irrigation.’
      a large amount, a fair amount, a good deal, a great deal, a deal, a great quantity, quantities, an abundance, a wealth, a profusion, plenty, masses
      View synonyms


[with object]
  • 1Compress (a soft material) into a lump or bundle.

    ‘a wadded handkerchief’
    • ‘He tore open the package, to reveal crumpled rice paper wadded up around a much smaller box in the center of the package.’
    • ‘I ran across the road, wadded up my jacket and squatted next to him in the road, with the buses and cars honking and streaming past.’
    • ‘Stuff a few wadded sheets of newspaper in the base under the chimney (directly on the firegrate), then fill the chimney with briquets.’
    • ‘Robert wadded up the handkerchief and tossed it overboard as well.’
    • ‘I took the plane ticket from my pocket, wadded it into a ball, and pitched it dead center into the can.’
    • ‘Nice of you to wad up all the goodwill you've accumulated and flush it down the toilet.’
    • ‘Somebody tossed a wadded paper ball at my head.’
    • ‘Strewn around the room were wadded pieces of tissues.’
    • ‘Melt a dab of butter in it, and spread the butter evenly in the pan with a wadded paper towel.’
    • ‘He and Noel jumped out of the crowd, almost as if they had just magically appeared, and bombarded me with wadded up paper balls.’
    • ‘I'd kneeled over the man, wadded my own scarf to press against his wound.’
    • ‘Put the rag balls into the burrow as far as you can and cover the hole lightly with dirt or wadded newspaper.’
    • ‘She wadded up the soiled cloth and tucked it away, unfolded another.’
    • ‘Kevin wadded up a sleeping bag to use as a pillow and jammed it under his arm.’
    • ‘No matter where we position her in the crib by morning she is squashed up against the top of the mattress and the covers are in a wadded mass at the opposite end.’
    • ‘The nearest trashcan became a basketball hoop as I tossed my wadded paper plate into it.’
    • ‘You want the gifts in the basket to be visible, so you'll need to fill the bottom of the basket with wadded packing paper.’
    • ‘He wadded the stained shirt into a ball and threw it so that it hit Ian in the face.’
    • ‘She started with the exit wound and wadded a cloth behind his shoulder to help stop the bleeding from his back.’
    • ‘He was tearing paper out of his notebook, wadding it up into paper wads, and throwing them as hard as he could against the wall.’
  • 2Line or stuff (a garment or piece of furniture) with wadding.

    ‘a wadded sheepskin coat’
    • ‘The Americans travel in convoys, wadded in Kevlar and helmets, guns held ready.’
    • ‘He took it to his bed and then dumped out several wadded garments.’
    • ‘Thinly wadded and intricately stitched, all-white quilts represent a high point in the development of North Country quilting.’
    • ‘My brain feels wadded with cotton wool, no, fibreglass.’
    • ‘It is a wadded cotton quilt, embroidered with red, yellow, blue, green and orange silk in a fine back-stitch.’
    stuff, pad, fill, pack, line
    View synonyms
    1. 2.1 Stop up (an aperture or a gun barrel) with a bundle or lump of soft material.
      ‘he had something wadded behind his teeth’
      • ‘Ever resourceful, she wadded some toilet paper between it and the door frame and found that it stayed shut.’


  • shoot one's wad

    • Spend all one's money.

      • ‘I see bike companies and other sponsors shoot their wad for road season and have nothing to invest come winter.’


Mid 16th century (denoting wadding): perhaps related to Dutch watten, French ouate ‘padding, cotton wool’.