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[won-uh-bee, waw-nuh‐] /ˈwɒn əˌbi, ˈwɔ nə‐/
noun, plural wannabes. Informal.
one who aspires, often vainly, to emulate another's success or attain eminence in some area.
Origin of wannabe
1980-85; derivative of (I) wanna be… Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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British Dictionary definitions for wannabe


  1. a person who desires to be, or be like, someone or something else: a group of Marilyn Monroe wannabes
  2. (as modifier): a wannabe film star
Word Origin
C20: phonetic shortening of want to be
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 wannabe

1981, originally American English surfer slang, from casual pronunciation of want to be; popularized c.1984 in reference to female fans of pop singer Madonna.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Slang definitions & phrases for wannabe



Someone who aspires to be someone else, esp a star or hero: Rambo Wanna-be's/ A ''poser'' or a ''wanta be'' is someone who tries to be like someone else

[1980s+ California surfers & black street gangs; fr imprecise or dialectal pronunciation of ''want to be'']

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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