- to move from side to side, forward and backward, or up and down, especially rapidly and repeatedly: a dog wagging its tail.
- to move (the tongue), as in idle or indiscreet chatter.
- to shake (a finger) at someone, as in reproach.
- to move or nod (the head).
- to be moved from side to side or one way and the other, especially rapidly and repeatedly, as the head or the tail.
- to move constantly, especially in idle or indiscreet chatter: Her behavior caused local tongues to wag.
- to get along; travel; proceed: Let the world wag how it will.
- to totter or sway.
- British Slang. to play truant; play hooky.
- the act of wagging: a friendly wag of the tail.
- a person given to droll, roguish, or mischievous humor; wit.
Origin of wag
Examples from the Web for wag
One wag joked that Liberty was the only university where football players and nerds got the same amount of sex.Alleged U.Va. Abductor Accused of Rape at Christian College
September 28, 2014
“The first cover-up of the de Blasio administration,” one wag joked.What Really Happened to De Blasio’s FDR Bible
January 3, 2014
One wag tweeted: “I saved millions of lives … by getting people to not vote for your father.”Josh Romney’s Awkward Car-Crash ‘Selfie’
November 30, 2013
Rather, this tiny tail of the car industry is starting to wag the dog.Tesla’s Rise Forces Other Automakers to Up Their Electric Car Game
September 25, 2013
And ultimately, Kumar said, “efforts at message discipline tend not to work” and tongues, at long last, begin to wag.At the Obama White House: Transparency Transhmarency
August 23, 2013
Let them be what they might, the pendulum should wag, and have a fair chance of doing its best.Wilfrid Cumbermede
He had only a stump of a tail, but he will wag it—when next his master sees him!A Boy I Knew and Four Dogs
The hunger that possessed her made her wag her head as if senile.L'Assommoir
Say it to your dogs, however, and see if they do not wag their tails.Five Mice in a Mouse-trap
Laura E. Richards
If he wag his tail, then will I sing; if he do not wag his tail, then—then will I not be silent.The Shadow of a Crime
- to move or cause to move rapidly and repeatedly from side to side or up and down
- to move (the tongue) or (of the tongue) to be moved rapidly in talking, esp in idle gossip
- to move (the finger) or (of the finger) to be moved from side to side, in or as in admonition
- slang to play truant (esp in the phrase wag it)
- the act or an instance of wagging
- a humorous or jocular person; wit
- informal the wife or girlfriend of a famous sportsman
- (West Africa) Gambia (international car registration)
Word Origin and History for wag
early 13c., "waver, vacillate, lack steadfastness," probably from a Scandinavian source (cf. Old Norse vagga "a cradle," Danish vugge "rock a cradle," Old Swedish wagga "fluctuate"), and in part from Old English wagian "move backwards and forwards;" all from Proto-Germanic *wagojanan (cf. Old High German weggen, Gothic wagjan "to wag"), probably from PIE root *wegh- "to move about" (see weigh). Meaning "to move back and forth or up and down" is from c.1300. Wagtail is attested from c.1500 as a kind of small bird (late 12c. as a surname); 18c. as "a harlot," but seems to be implied much earlier:
If therefore thou make not thy mistress a goldfinch, thou mayst chance to find her a wagtaile. [Lyly, "Midas," 1592]
Wag-at-the-wall (1825) was an old name for a hanging clock with pendulum and weights exposed.
Idioms and Phrases with wag
see tail wagging the dog; tongues wag.