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[wig-wag] /ˈwɪgˌwæg/
verb (used with or without object), wigwagged, wigwagging.
to move to and fro.
Nautical. to signal by movements of two flags or the like waved according to a code.
Nautical. the act or process of sending messages by the movements of two flags or the like waved according to a code.
a message so signaled.
Origin of wigwag
1575-85; wig to wag (now dial.) + wag; gradational compound, parallel to zigzag, etc.
Related forms
wigwagger, noun Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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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.

    A Gunner Aboard the "Yankee"

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

    A Gunner Aboard the "Yankee"

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

    Jersey City and its Historic Sites Harriet Phillips Eaton
  • After that there was less pompous dignity and less hysteria, although the toes continued to wigwag.

  • The battery in general was also put through a strenuous course in the use of the semaphore and the wigwag.

    The Delta of the Triple Elevens William Elmer Bachman
  • The absence of the "wigwag" system made it impossible to convey intelligible messages.

    Truxton King George Barr McCutcheon
  • It is more convenient for windy weather, because the flags are shorter and smaller than the flags of the three-motion wigwag.

    Pluck on the Long Trail

    Edwin L. Sabin
  • He is due now—the wigwag train from Pont du Sable ought to be in any minute.

    The Arm-Chair at the Inn F. Hopkinson Smith
British Dictionary definitions for wigwag


verb -wags, -wagging, -wagged
to move (something) back and forth
to communicate with (someone) by means of a flag semaphore
  1. a system of communication by flag semaphore
  2. the message signalled
Derived Forms
wigwagger, noun
Word Origin
C16: from obsolete wig, probably short for wiggle + wag1
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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