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[wod] /wɒd/
a small mass, lump, or ball of anything:
a wad of paper; a wad of tobacco.
a small mass of cotton, wool, or other fibrous or soft material, used for stuffing, padding, packing, etc.
a roll of something, especially of bank notes.
Informal. a comparatively large stock or quantity of something, especially money:
He's got a healthy wad salted away.
a plug of cloth, tow, paper, or the like, used to hold the powder or shot, or both, in place in a gun or cartridge.
British Dialect. a bundle, especially a small one, of hay, straw, etc.
verb (used with object), wadded, wadding.
to form (material) into a wad.
to roll tightly (often followed by up):
He wadded up his cap and stuck it into his pocket.
to hold in place by a wad:
They rammed and wadded the shot into their muskets.
to put a wad into; stuff with a wad.
to fill out with or as if with wadding; stuff; pad:
to wad a quilt; to wad a speech with useless information.
verb (used without object), wadded, wadding.
to become formed into a wad:
The damp tissues had wadded in his pocket.
shoot one's wad, Informal.
  1. to spend all one's money:
    He shot his wad on a new car.
  2. to expend all one's energies or resources at one time:
    She shot her wad writing her first novel and her second wasn't as good.
  3. Slang: Vulgar. (of a man) to have an orgasm.
Origin of wad1
1530-40; < Medieval Latin wadda < Arabic bāṭa'in lining of a garment, batting; compare French ouate, Dutch watte, Swedish vadd
Related forms
wadder, noun
unwadded, adjective Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2017.
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British Dictionary definitions for shoot one's wad


a small mass or ball of fibrous or soft material, such as cotton wool, used esp for packing or stuffing
  1. a plug of paper, cloth, leather, etc, pressed against a charge to hold it in place in a muzzle-loading cannon
  2. a disc of paper, felt, pasteboard, etc, used to hold in place the powder and shot in a shotgun cartridge
a roll or bundle of something, esp of banknotes
(US & Canadian, slang) a large quantity, esp of money
(Brit, dialect) a bundle of hay or straw
(Brit, military, slang) a bun: char and a wad
verb wads, wadding, wadded
to form (something) into a wad
(transitive) to roll into a wad or bundle
  1. to hold (a charge) in place with a wad
  2. to insert a wad into (a gun)
(transitive) to pack or stuff with wadding; pad
Derived Forms
wadder, noun
Word Origin
C14: from Late Latin wadda; related to German Watte cotton wool


a soft dark earthy amorphous material consisting of decomposed manganese minerals: occurs in damp marshy areas
Word Origin
C17: of unknown origin
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 shoot one's wad



early 15c., "soft material for padding or stuffing," of uncertain origin, and the different meanings may represent more than one source. Among the possible connections are Medieval Latin wadda, Dutch watten, and Middle English wadmal (late 14c.) "woolen cloth," which seems to be from Old Norse vaðmal "a woolen fabric of Scandinavia," probably from vað "cloth" + mal "measure."

The meaning "bundle of currency" is American English, 1778. To shoot (one's) wad "do all one can do" is recorded from 1914. The immediate source of the expression probably is the sense of "disk of cloth used to hold powder and shot in place in a gun." Wad in slang sense of "a load of semen" is attested from 1920s, and the expression now often is felt in this sense. As a suffix, -wad in 1980s joined -bag, -ball, -head in combinations meaning "disgusting or unpleasant person."


1570s, from wad (n.). Related: Wadded; wadding.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Slang definitions & phrases for shoot one's wad

shoot one's wad

verb phrase

  1. To commit or bet everything one has; go for broke, shoot the works
  2. To say everything one can on a subject; have one's say
  3. To exhaust one's resources; be unable to persist
  4. SHOOT one's LOAD

[1914+; fr the wad of cloth formerly stuffed into a gun barrel to keep the shot and powder in place]



  1. A roll of money: My grandmother'd just sent me this wad about a week before (1864+)
  2. An amount of semen: shoot one's wad

Related Terms

shoot one's load, shoot one's wad

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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