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wigwag

[wig-wag]
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verb (used with or without object), wig·wagged, wig·wag·ging.
  1. to move to and fro.
  2. Nautical. to signal by movements of two flags or the like waved according to a code.
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noun
  1. Nautical. the act or process of sending messages by the movements of two flags or the like waved according to a code.
  2. a message so signaled.
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Origin of wigwag

1575–85; wig to wag (now dial.) + wag; gradational compound, parallel to zigzag, etc.
Related formswig·wag·ger, noun
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for wigwag

Historical Examples

  • The pole which had been used to convey the wigwag signals was now out of sight.

    Boy Scouts in the Philippines

    G. Harvey Ralphson

  • If it be a Graycoat, it will answer with the same, the wigwag: "I'm a Squirrel, too."

    Bannertail

    Ernest Thompson Seton

  • After parleying for a while, one of the landing party was seen to wigwag.

  • Unlike the "wigwag" system, the whole letter is shown at once.

  • The signal outfit consists of the International Code, Navy numerals and wigwag flags.


British Dictionary definitions for wigwag

wigwag

verb -wags, -wagging or -wagged
  1. to move (something) back and forth
  2. to communicate with (someone) by means of a flag semaphore
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noun
    1. a system of communication by flag semaphore
    2. the message signalled
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Derived Formswigwagger, noun

Word Origin

C16: from obsolete wig, probably short for wiggle + wag 1
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