verb (used with object)
verb (used without object)
- again drinking alcoholic beverages after a period of abstinence: His failure to show up at work is one more sign that he’s fallen off the wagon again.
- returning to an unhealthy or bad habit: I’m usually on a diet, but sometimes I go off my wagon.
Origin of wagon
British Dictionary definitions for on the wagon (1 of 2)
British Dictionary definitions for on the wagon (2 of 2)
Word Origin for wagon
Word Origin and History for on the wagon
1520s, from Middle Dutch wagen, waghen, from Proto-Germanic *wagnaz (cf. Old English wægn, Modern English wain, Old Saxon and Old High German wagan, Old Norse vagn, Old Frisian wein, German Wagen), from PIE *woghnos, from *wegh- "to carry, to move" (cf. Sanskrit vahanam "vessel, ship," Greek okhos, Latin vehiculum, Old Church Slavonic vozu "carriage, chariot," Russian povozka, Lithuanian vazis "a small sledge," Old Irish fen, Welsh gwain "carriage, cart;" see weigh).
In Dutch and German, the general word for "a wheel vehicle;" English use is a result of contact through Flemish immigration, Dutch trade, or the Continental wars. It has largely displaced the native cognate, wain. Spelling preference varied randomly between -g- and -gg- from mid-18c., before American English settled on the etymological wagon, while waggon remained common in Great Britain. Wagon train is attested from 1810. Phrase on the wagon "abstaining from alcohol" is 1904, originally on the water cart.
Idioms and Phrases with on the wagon (1 of 2)
on the wagon
Abstaining from drinking alcoholic beverages, as in Don't offer her wine; she's on the wagon. This expression is a shortening of on the water wagon, referring to the horse-drawn water car once used to spray dirt roads to keep down the dust. Its present meaning dates from about 1900. The antonym off the wagon, used for a resumption of drinking, dates from the same period. B.J. Taylor used it in Extra Dry (1906): “It is better to have been on and off the wagon than never to have been on at all.”
Idioms and Phrases with on the wagon (2 of 2)
see fix someone's wagon; hitch one's wagon; on the bandwagon; on the wagon.