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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. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for nag
Historical Examples
  • Just the nag I want, Mr. Whittlesey; only I've no ready cash to pay for him.

  • If I tell you what I want to, will you promise not to pitch into me, and not to nag and poke fun?

    Cap'n Eri Joseph Crosby Lincoln
  • I says, 'anything from plowing to threshing and nicking a nag's tail,' I says.

    A Son of Hagar

    Sir Hall Caine
  • The poor ruffler was fallen into meditation, and noted not that his nag did no more than amble.

    The Tavern Knight Rafael Sabatini
  • I heard that you were last seen eloping with Tim and my nag Bill.

    Mixed Faces Roy Norton
  • But Lady Mountfencer's nag was fast too, was fast and had a will of his own.

    Is He Popenjoy?

    Anthony Trollope
  • With this, he unhooked his nag from the wall, and clattered off to the "Packhorse."

  • But it will nag at them because they know this effect can't possibly exist.

    Toy Shop Henry Maxwell Dempsey
  • Yes, an' or mighty likely nag it wuz, too, which he called Jim.

  • Pierre, are you going to nag me about a little thing like that?

    Riders of the Silences

    John Frederick
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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