verb (used with object), wad·ded, wad·ding.

verb (used without object), wad·ded, wad·ding.

to become formed into a wad: The damp tissues had wadded in his pocket.


    shoot one's wad, Informal.
    1. to spend all one's money: He shot his wad on a new car.
    2. to expend all one's energies or resources at one time: She shot her wad writing her first novel and her second wasn't as good.
    3. Slang: Vulgar.(of a man) to have an orgasm.

Origin of wad

1530–40; < Medieval Latin wadda < Arabic bāṭa'in lining of a garment, batting; compare French ouate, Dutch watte, Swedish vadd
Related formswad·der, nounun·wad·ded, adjective
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

British Dictionary definitions for shoot one's wad




a small mass or ball of fibrous or soft material, such as cotton wool, used esp for packing or stuffing
  1. a plug of paper, cloth, leather, etc, pressed against a charge to hold it in place in a muzzle-loading cannon
  2. a disc of paper, felt, pasteboard, etc, used to hold in place the powder and shot in a shotgun cartridge
a roll or bundle of something, esp of banknotes
US and Canadian slang a large quantity, esp of money
British dialect a bundle of hay or straw
British military slang a bunchar and a wad

verb wads, wadding or wadded

to form (something) into a wad
(tr) to roll into a wad or bundle
  1. to hold (a charge) in place with a wad
  2. to insert a wad into (a gun)
(tr) to pack or stuff with wadding; pad
Derived Formswadder, noun

Word Origin for wad

C14: from Late Latin wadda; related to German Watte cotton wool




a soft dark earthy amorphous material consisting of decomposed manganese minerals: occurs in damp marshy areas

Word Origin for wad

C17: of unknown origin
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 shoot one's wad



1570s, from wad (n.). Related: Wadded; wadding.



early 15c., "soft material for padding or stuffing," of uncertain origin, and the different meanings may represent more than one source. Among the possible connections are Medieval Latin wadda, Dutch watten, and Middle English wadmal (late 14c.) "woolen cloth," which seems to be from Old Norse vaðmal "a woolen fabric of Scandinavia," probably from vað "cloth" + mal "measure."

The meaning "bundle of currency" is American English, 1778. To shoot (one's) wad "do all one can do" is recorded from 1914. The immediate source of the expression probably is the sense of "disk of cloth used to hold powder and shot in place in a gun." Wad in slang sense of "a load of semen" is attested from 1920s, and the expression now often is felt in this sense. As a suffix, -wad in 1980s joined -bag, -ball, -head in combinations meaning "disgusting or unpleasant person."

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper