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[nag] /næg/
verb (used with object), nagged, nagging.
to annoy by persistent faultfinding, complaints, or demands.
to keep in a state of troubled awareness or anxiety, as a recurrent pain or problem:
She had certain misgivings that nagged her.
verb (used without object), nagged, nagging.
to find fault or complain in an irritating, wearisome, or relentless manner (often followed by at):
If they start nagging at each other, I'm going home.
to cause pain, discomfort, distress, depression, etc. (often followed by at):
This headache has been nagging at me all day.
Also, nagger. a person who nags, especially habitually.
an act or instance of nagging.
Origin of nag1
1815-25; < Old Norse nagga to rub, grumble, quarrel; akin to Middle Low German naggen to irritate. See gnaw
Related forms
unnagged, adjective
1. pester, harass, hector, irritate, vex.


[nag] /næg/
an old, inferior, or worthless horse.
Slang. any horse, especially a racehorse.
a small riding horse or pony.
1350-1400; late Middle English nagge; connected with Dutch neg(ge) small horse, itself attested late and of obscure origin; said to be akin to neigh Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2017.
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Examples from the Web for nag
Historical Examples
  • Your good father advised me that if you seemed the least to need it, I should get you a nag.

  • Here—Juan, let some one go for Uncle Licurgo to get the nag ready.

    Dona Perfecta B. Perez Galdos
  • I don't know where you can get one, unless you steal the telegraph boy's nag; it's in the stable now, having a feed.

  • He gave his nag a good kick in the flank and urged him to the top of his speed.

  • He was pulled out from beneath his nag; and the poor animal got up, goaded to do so by the kicks of the brutal performers.

  • One of our babies fell out of the nest yesterday and nag ate him.

    The Jungle Book Rudyard Kipling
  • In the midst I heard a call from the road, and saw at the gate a nag bearing a woman and two small boys.

    Mothering on Perilous Lucy S. Furman
  • And how am I to be sure that nag won't mistake me for you some dark night?

    The Jungle Book Rudyard Kipling
  • With a glance at the heap of mortality littering the way, I spurred my nag sharply, and followed hard behind.

    Campaigns of a Non-Combatant, George Alfred Townsend
  • The big man brought the bang-stick, and nag fell in two pieces!

    The Jungle Book Rudyard Kipling
British Dictionary definitions for nag


verb nags, nagging, nagged
to scold or annoy constantly
when intr, often foll by at. to be a constant source of discomfort or worry (to): toothache nagged him all day
a person, esp a woman, who nags
Derived Forms
nagger, noun
naggingly, adverb
Word Origin
C19: of Scandinavian origin; compare Swedish nagga to gnaw, irritate, German nagen


(often derogatory) a horse
a small riding horse
Word Origin
C14: of Germanic origin; related to neigh
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for nag

"annoy by scolding," 1828, originally a dialectal word meaning "to gnaw" (1825), probably ultimately from a Scandinavian source (cf. Old Norse gnaga "to complain," literally "to bite, gnaw," dialectal Swedish and Norwegian nagga "to gnaw"), from Proto-Germanic *gnagan, related to Old English gnagan "to gnaw" (see gnaw). Related: Nagged; nagger; nagging.


"old horse," c.1400, nagge "small riding horse," of unknown origin, perhaps related to Dutch negge, neg (but these are more recent than the English word), perhaps related in either case to imitative neigh. Term of abuse is a transferred sense, first recorded 1590s.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Slang definitions & phrases for nag



A horse, esp an old and worn-out racehorse: to make dough on the nags

[1400+; origin unknown]

The Dictionary of American Slang, Fourth Edition by Barbara Ann Kipfer, PhD. and Robert L. Chapman, Ph.D.
Copyright (C) 2007 by HarperCollins Publishers.
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nag in Technology

1. Numerical Algorithms Group.
2. The Linux Network Administrators' Guide.

The Free On-line Dictionary of Computing, © Denis Howe 2010
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Related Abbreviations for nag


The American Heritage® Abbreviations Dictionary, Third Edition
Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Company.
Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.
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