1. any of numerous small, chiefly Old World birds of the family Motacillidae, having a slender body with a long, narrow tail that is habitually wagged up and down.
  2. any of several similar birds, as the water thrushes of the genus Seiurus.

Origin of wagtail

First recorded in 1500–10; wag + tail1
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for wagtail

Historical Examples of wagtail

  • And I,” cried Wagtail, “can tie a bandage, although I am not a surgeon.

  • Wagtail,” he exclaimed, “the cabin is full of water––we are sinking!

  • “I am drunk,” roared Wagtail, who with might and main was rolling about his little bed.

  • Wagtail took a piece of the biscuit and put it into his mouth.

  • Wagtail, who was not much of a shot, sat on deck and passed the weapons up and down.

British Dictionary definitions for wagtail


  1. any of various passerine songbirds of the genera Motacilla and Dendronanthus, of Eurasia and Africa, having a very long tail that wags when the bird walks: family Motacillidae
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