or pol·ly·wog

  1. a tadpole.

Origin of polliwog

1400–50; variant of polliwig, earlier polwigge, late Middle English polwygle. See poll1, wiggle
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for pollywog

Historical Examples of pollywog

  • You look like the bullfrog on the bank and the pollywog in the pool.

  • Under the microscope they show a sort of head and tail like a pollywog.

  • I'm a worm, a maggot, brother to the pollywog an' child of the blow-fly.

    Smoke Bellew

    Jack London

  • He caught a pollywog for bait, with which he waded to a deep, cool place under a shady bank.

    Wood Folk at School

    William J. Long

  • It will be seen that one looks like a mouse, whilst the other resembles a pollywog, or a newly-hatched dragon.

    The Art of Amusing

    Frank Bellew

British Dictionary definitions for pollywog



  1. British dialect, US and Canadian another name for tadpole
  2. informal a sailor who has not crossed the equatorCompare shellback

Word Origin for polliwog

C15 polwygle; see poll, wiggle
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 pollywog



"tadpole," mid-15c., polwygle, probably from pol "head" (see poll (n.)) + wiglen "to wiggle" (see wiggle (v.)). Modern spelling is 1830s, replacing earlier polwigge.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper