Main definitions of wag in English

: wag1wag2

wag1

verb

  • 1(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’
    • ‘At the sight of us, they all begin to bark, tails wagging in instant happiness.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Family dog greets me with tail wagging manically.’
    • ‘Then I come back, and the tails wag so hard that it begins with the middle of their dog bodies.’
    • ‘And now Fizz is about to set tails wagging having been nominated for the Woman's Best Friend award in a canine competition.’
    • ‘Rex bounded back the way he had come, tail wagging.’
    • ‘Her tail began to wag as he approached, and he cautiously dropped onto one knee before reaching to untangle her leash.’
    • ‘Lucy was waiting by the door, tail wagging as always when we got home.’
    • ‘The climbers soon ski up to us, red plastic sleds wagging like tails behind them.’
    • ‘I collect the morning paper and my two mutts greet me, their tails wagging back and forth in a frenzy.’
    • ‘His tail began to wag as I scratched behind his ears.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘You can see quite clearly when the puppy is wagging its tail.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘The puppy sniffed his hand cautiously and immediately his tail began to wag.’
    • ‘When my eyes meet hers, her tail starts to wag excitedly, but she dares not move her body in fear of spoiling the moment.’
    • ‘The Carmichaels walk down the path with three other dogs, their skeletal tails wagging furiously.’
    • ‘Apparently tails are wagging over the show, as it has been renewed for another season.’
    1. 1.1with object Move (an upward-pointing finger) from side to side to signify a warning or reprimand.
      ‘she wagged a finger at Elinor’
      • ‘When I first told them a couple of years ago, I really expected my grandma to wag her finger at me.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Siya pretended to be disappointed and wagged her finger at Mel.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘He was shown gesticulating toward the judge, and at times wagging his finger angrily.’
      • ‘Angry and wagging his finger at presenter Jon Snow, Mr Campbell tears into a ‘fundamental attack upon the integrity of the government’.’
      • ‘‘That's not how you behave on the dancefloor,’ she says, wagging her finger.’
      • ‘He wagged his finger at her in mock disapproval.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Friedman wags an accusing finger at subsidised theatres such as the National.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘"Not just once," said Palios, wagging a finger at Barry.’
      • ‘I left people with a little something to think about, without wagging my fingers or quoting Leviticus.’
      • ‘Instead wag a disapproving finger at the bull run in commodities.’
      • ‘I am wagging my finger in your direction Democrats and Republicans!’
      • ‘He made a flourished bow and then humorously wagged his finger in response to her question.’
      • ‘‘Suit yourself,’ Howie said, wagging a finger in admonishment as he moved away.’
      • ‘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.’
    2. 1.2no object (used of a tongue, jaw, or chin, as representing a person) talk, especially in order to gossip or spread rumors.
      ‘this is a small island, and tongues are beginning to wag’
      • ‘I think I'll silence that wagging tongue of hers right now!’
      • ‘It was the presence of retired and pregnant singer Sinead O'Connor on stage with Damien Dempsey that got chins wagging.’
      • ‘Today an update on the shirtless shopper incident that has got quite a few chins wagging and a lot of discussion about what is acceptable and what is not in the way of dress in public.’

noun

  • A single rapid movement from side to side.

    ‘a chirpy wag of the head’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘She looked up at him sadly, acknowledging his gesture with a half wag of her tail.’
    • ‘Nikko broke the silence with a small whine and a wag of his tail.’
    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.

      • ‘The second stage knows how the world wags but not why.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘I want you to be curious about how the world wags its tail in different lands.’
      • ‘If you want to know how the world wags, and who's wagging it, here's your answer.’
      • ‘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.’

Origin

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

Pronunciation

wag

/wæɡ//waɡ/

Main definitions of wag in English

: wag1wag2

wag2

noun

dated
  • A person who makes jokes.

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

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).

Pronunciation

wag

/wæɡ//waɡ/