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wah-wah

or wa-wa

[wah-wah]
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adjective
  1. producing a muted, bawling sound like that of a trumpet with the hand moved momentarily over the bell: a wah-wah effect on a synthesizer; a guitar with a wah-wah pedal.
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noun
  1. a sound or effect like the muted sound of a trumpet, especially in music.
  2. an electronic device or attachment to produce such a sound, often used with an electric guitar.
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Origin of wah-wah

First recorded in 1925–30; imitative
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for wah-wah

Historical Examples

  • I ceased making the sound "wah-wah" only when I learned to spell the word.

    Story of My Life

    Helen Keller

  • I would like to see a wah-wah of Indian thieves over a melon like that!

  • It was the death cry of a wah-wah monkey facing the cruel jaws of a crocodile.

    Tales of the Malayan Coast

    Rounsevelle Wildman

  • He was the most ordinary kind of gray, jungle monkey, not even a wah-wah or spider face.

    Tales of the Malayan Coast

    Rounsevelle Wildman


British Dictionary definitions for wah-wah

wah-wah

noun
  1. the sound made by a trumpet, cornet, etc, when the bell is alternately covered and uncovered: much used in jazz
  2. an electronic attachment for an electric guitar, etc, that simulates this effect
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Word Origin

C20: of imitative 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

Word Origin and History for wah-wah

1926, in jazz slang, in reference to the effect on brass instruments made by manipulating the mute; of imitative origin. Later also in reference to an electric guitar effect. As an imitation of the sound of a baby crying, it is recorded from 1938. Wah-wah pedal is recorded from 1969. Cf. Chinook jargon wawa "talk, speak, call, ask, sermon, language;" Cree (Algonquian) wehwew "goose," Lenape (Algonquian) wava "snow goose," all probably of imitative origin.

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper