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wasp

[wosp]
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noun
  1. any of numerous social or solitary hymenopterous insects of the Vespidae, Sphecidae, and allied families, generally having a long, slender body and narrow waist and, in the female, a stinger.
  2. a person who is snappish or petulant.
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Origin of wasp

before 900; Middle English waspe, Old English wæsp, metathetic variant of wæps, itself variant of wæfs, akin to Dutch wesp, German Wespe, Latin vespa
Related formswasp·like, adjective

WASP1

[wosp]
noun
  1. a member of the Women's Air Force Service Pilots, an organization disbanded in 1944.
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WASP2

or Wasp

[wosp]Sometimes Disparaging and Offensive.
noun
  1. a white Anglo-Saxon Protestant.
  2. a member of the privileged, established white upper middle class in the U.S.
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adjective
  1. Waspy.
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Origin of WASP2

First recorded in 1955–60

Wasps, The

noun
  1. a satirical comedy (422 b.c.) by Aristophanes.
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Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

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British Dictionary definitions for wasps

wasp

noun
  1. any social hymenopterous insect of the family Vespidae, esp Vespula vulgaris (common wasp), typically having a black-and-yellow body and an ovipositor specialized for stingingSee also potter wasp, hornet Related adjective: vespine
  2. any of various solitary hymenopterans, such as the digger wasp and gall wasp
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Derived Formswasplike, adjectivewaspy, adjectivewaspily, adverbwaspiness, noun

Word Origin

Old English wæsp; related to Old Saxon waspa, Old High German wefsa, Latin vespa

Wasp

WASP

n acronym for (in the US)
  1. White Anglo-Saxon Protestant: a person descended from N European, usually Protestant stock, forming a group often considered the most dominant, privileged, and influential in American society
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Derived FormsWaspy, adjective
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 wasps

WASP

n.

acronym for White Anglo-Saxon Protestant, 1962, often said to have been coined by University of Pennsylvania sociologist E. Digby Baltzell (1915-1996), but first recorded reference is in an article by E.B. Palmore in "American Journal of Sociology."

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wasp

n.

Old English wæps, wæsp, altered (probably by influence of Latin vespa) from West Germanic *wabis- (cf. Old Saxon waspa, Middle Dutch wespe, Dutch wesp, Old High German wafsa, German Wespe, Danish hveps), from PIE *wobhes-/*wops- (cf. Latin vespa, Lithuanian vapsa, Old Church Slavonic vosa "wasp," Old Irish foich "drone"), perhaps from *webh- "weave" (see weave (v.)). If that is the correct derivation, the insect would be so called for the shape of its nest. Wasp-waist in reference to women's figures is recorded from 1870 (wasp-waisted is from 1775).

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

wasps in Culture

WASP

An acronym for “white Anglo-Saxon Protestant” — a member of what many consider to be the most privileged and influential group in American society.

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The New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.