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[wag-uh n] /ˈwæg ən/
any of various kinds of four-wheeled vehicles designed to be pulled or having its own motor and ranging from a child's toy to a commercial vehicle for the transport of heavy loads, delivery, etc.
Informal. station wagon.
a police van for transporting prisoners; patrol wagon:
The fight broke up before the wagon arrived.
(initial capital letter) Astronomy. Charles's Wain.
British. a railway freight car or flatcar.
a baby carriage.
Archaic. a chariot.
verb (used with object)
to transport or convey by wagon.
verb (used without object)
to proceed or haul goods by wagon:
It was strenuous to wagon up the hill.
Also, especially British, waggon.
circle the wagons. circle (def 23).
fix someone's wagon, Slang. to get even with or punish someone:
He'd better mind his own business or I'll really fix his wagon.
hitch one's wagon to a star, to have a high ambition, ideal, or purpose:
It is better to hitch one's wagon to a star than to wander aimlessly through life.
off the / one's wagon, Slang.
  1. again drinking alcoholic beverages after a period of abstinence:
    His failure to show up at work is one more sign that he’s fallen off the wagon again.
  2. returning to an unhealthy or bad habit:
    I’m usually on a diet, but sometimes I go off my wagon.
on the wagon, Slang. abstaining from a current or former bad habit, as smoking, overeating, excessive drinking of alcoholic beverages, or taking drugs:
She's been on the wagon for a month, now, so please don't offer her a drink.
Also, on the water wagon; British, on the water cart.
Origin of wagon
1505-15; < Dutch wagen; cognate with Old English wægn wain
Related forms
wagonless, adjective
1. cart, van, wain, truck, dray, lorry. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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British Dictionary definitions for on the wagon


the Wagon, another name for the Plough


any of various types of wheeled vehicles, ranging from carts to lorries, esp a vehicle with four wheels drawn by a horse, tractor, etc, and used for carrying crops, heavy loads, etc
(Brit) a railway freight truck, esp an open one
(US & Canadian) a child's four-wheeled cart
(US & Canadian) a police van for transporting prisoners and those arrested
(mainly US & Canadian) See station wagon
an obsolete word for chariot
(informal) off the wagon, no longer abstaining from alcoholic drinks
(informal) on the wagon, abstaining from alcoholic drinks
(transitive) to transport by wagon
Derived Forms
wagonless, waggonless, adjective
Word Origin
C16: from Dutch wagenwain
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 on the wagon



1520s, from Middle Dutch wagen, waghen, from Proto-Germanic *wagnaz (cf. Old English wægn, Modern English wain, Old Saxon and Old High German wagan, Old Norse vagn, Old Frisian wein, German Wagen), from PIE *woghnos, from *wegh- "to carry, to move" (cf. Sanskrit vahanam "vessel, ship," Greek okhos, Latin vehiculum, Old Church Slavonic vozu "carriage, chariot," Russian povozka, Lithuanian vazis "a small sledge," Old Irish fen, Welsh gwain "carriage, cart;" see weigh).

In Dutch and German, the general word for "a wheel vehicle;" English use is a result of contact through Flemish immigration, Dutch trade, or the Continental wars. It has largely displaced the native cognate, wain. Spelling preference varied randomly between -g- and -gg- from mid-18c., before American English settled on the etymological wagon, while waggon remained common in Great Britain. Wagon train is attested from 1810. Phrase on the wagon "abstaining from alcohol" is 1904, originally on the water cart.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Slang definitions & phrases for on the wagon

on the wagon

adjective phrase

Abstaining from liquor; teetotal, at least temporarily: Monty didn't drink, and Clifton James went on the wagon

[1904+; first attested as on the water cart in 1902]

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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Idioms and Phrases with on the wagon

on the wagon

Abstaining from drinking alcoholic beverages, as in Don't offer her wine; she's on the wagon. This expression is a shortening of on the water wagon, referring to the horse-drawn water car once used to spray dirt roads to keep down the dust. Its present meaning dates from about 1900. The antonym off the wagon, used for a resumption of drinking, dates from the same period. B.J. Taylor used it in Extra Dry (1906): “It is better to have been on and off the wagon than never to have been on at all.”
The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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