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[wag-teyl] /ˈwægˌteɪl/
any of numerous small, chiefly Old World birds of the family Motacillidae, having a slender body with a long, narrow tail that is habitually wagged up and down.
any of several similar birds, as the water thrushes of the genus Seiurus.
Origin of wagtail
First recorded in 1500-10; wag + tail1 Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for wagtail
Historical Examples
  • wagtail took a piece of the biscuit and put it into his mouth.

    Hair Breadth Escapes T. S. Arthur
  • And I,” cried wagtail, “can tie a bandage, although I am not a surgeon.

    Hair Breadth Escapes T. S. Arthur
  • wagtail, who was not much of a shot, sat on deck and passed the weapons up and down.

    Hair Breadth Escapes T. S. Arthur
  • I went down into the cabin and sat down to breakfast with Gelid and wagtail.

    Hair Breadth Escapes T. S. Arthur
  • “I am drunk,” roared wagtail, who with might and main was rolling about his little bed.

    Hair Breadth Escapes T. S. Arthur
  • wagtail,” he exclaimed, “the cabin is full of water––we are sinking!

    Hair Breadth Escapes T. S. Arthur
  • All at once he turned round to Claude with the agile quickness of a wagtail.

    Notre-Dame de Paris Victor Hugo
  • Soon he was at the paper store, where he bought what Mrs. wagtail wanted.

  • The wagtail most likely to be seen is the grey wagtail (Motacilla melanope).

  • These display the elegant form of the wagtail and the sober colouring of the lark.

British Dictionary definitions for wagtail


any of various passerine songbirds of the genera Motacilla and Dendronanthus, of Eurasia and Africa, having a very long tail that wags when the bird walks: family Motacillidae
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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