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  1. any of numerous social or solitary hymenopterous insects of the Vespidae, Sphecidae, and allied families, generally having a long, slender body and narrow waist and, in the female, a stinger.
  2. a person who is snappish or petulant.

Origin of wasp

before 900; Middle English waspe, Old English wæsp, metathetic variant of wæps, itself variant of wæfs, akin to Dutch wesp, German Wespe, Latin vespa
Related formswasp·like, adjective
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for wasplike

Historical Examples

  • There was a flurry among the wasplike clouds of pleasure craft over the city.

    Astounding Stories of Super-Science, December 1930


British Dictionary definitions for wasplike


  1. any social hymenopterous insect of the family Vespidae, esp Vespula vulgaris (common wasp), typically having a black-and-yellow body and an ovipositor specialized for stingingSee also potter wasp, hornet Related adjective: vespine
  2. any of various solitary hymenopterans, such as the digger wasp and gall wasp
Derived Formswasplike, adjectivewaspy, adjectivewaspily, adverbwaspiness, noun

Word Origin

Old English wæsp; related to Old Saxon waspa, Old High German wefsa, Latin vespa



n acronym for (in the US)
  1. White Anglo-Saxon Protestant: a person descended from N European, usually Protestant stock, forming a group often considered the most dominant, privileged, and influential in American society
Derived FormsWaspy, adjective
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 wasplike



acronym for White Anglo-Saxon Protestant, 1962, often said to have been coined by University of Pennsylvania sociologist E. Digby Baltzell (1915-1996), but first recorded reference is in an article by E.B. Palmore in "American Journal of Sociology."



Old English wæps, wæsp, altered (probably by influence of Latin vespa) from West Germanic *wabis- (cf. Old Saxon waspa, Middle Dutch wespe, Dutch wesp, Old High German wafsa, German Wespe, Danish hveps), from PIE *wobhes-/*wops- (cf. Latin vespa, Lithuanian vapsa, Old Church Slavonic vosa "wasp," Old Irish foich "drone"), perhaps from *webh- "weave" (see weave (v.)). If that is the correct derivation, the insect would be so called for the shape of its nest. Wasp-waist in reference to women's figures is recorded from 1870 (wasp-waisted is from 1775).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

wasplike in Culture


An acronym for “white Anglo-Saxon Protestant” — a member of what many consider to be the most privileged and influential group in American society.

The New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.