[won-uh-bee, waw-nuh‐]

noun, plural wan·na·bes. Informal.

one who aspires, often vainly, to emulate another's success or attain eminence in some area.

Origin of wannabe

1980–85; derivative of (I) wanna be…
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

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Contemporary Examples of wannabe

British Dictionary definitions for wannabe




  1. a person who desires to be, or be like, someone or something elsea group of Marilyn Monroe wannabes
  2. (as modifier)a wannabe film star

Word Origin for wannabe

C20: phonetic shortening of want to be
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 wannabe

1981, originally American English surfer slang, from casual pronunciation of want to be; popularized c.1984 in reference to female fans of pop singer Madonna.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper