[hwig, wig]

verb (used without object), whigged, whig·ging. Scot.

to move along briskly.

Origin of whig

1660–70; perhaps Scots variant of dial. fig to move briskly; see fidget


[hwig, wig]


American History.
  1. a member of the patriotic party during the Revolutionary period; supporter of the Revolution.
  2. a member of a political party (c1834–1855) that was formed in opposition to the Democratic Party, and favored economic expansion and a high protective tariff, while opposing the strength of the presidency in relation to the legislature.
British Politics.
  1. a member of a major political party (1679–1832) in Great Britain that held liberal principles and favored reforms: later called the Liberal party.
  2. (in later use) one of the more conservative members of the Liberal party.


being a Whig.
of, relating to, or characteristic of the Whigs.

Origin of Whig

1635–45; earlier, a Covenanter, hence an opponent of the accession of James II; of uncertain origin, though probably in part a shortening of whiggamaire (later whiggamore), a participant in the Whiggamore Raid a march against the royalists in Edinburgh launched by Covenanters in 1648 (said to represent whig to spur on (cf. whig) + maire mare1)
Related formspro-Whig, adjective
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for whig

Contemporary Examples of whig

Historical Examples of whig

  • The stability of the Whig administration, then in power, depended upon the results.

    The Grand Old Man

    Richard B. Cook

  • There was a somewhat larger Whig party, which by word and deed supported Congress.

    In the Valley

    Harold Frederic

  • He voted the Whig ticket as long as the old Whig party had an existence.

  • In politics, he was formerly a Whig, but now acts with the Democrats.

  • The prudence which teaches one man to be a Whig, will make of another a Utopian.

British Dictionary definitions for whig



a member of the English political party or grouping that opposed the succession to the throne of James, Duke of York, in 1679–80 on the grounds that he was a Catholic. Standing for a limited monarchy, the Whigs represented the great aristocracy and the moneyed middle class for the next 80 years. In the late 18th and early 19th centuries the Whigs represented the desires of industrialists and Dissenters for political and social reform. The Whigs provided the core of the Liberal Party
(in the US) a supporter of the War of American IndependenceCompare Tory
a member of the American political party that opposed the Democrats from about 1834 to 1855 and represented propertied and professional interests
a conservative member of the Liberal Party in Great Britain
a person who advocates and believes in an unrestricted laissez-faire economy
history a 17th-century Scottish Presbyterian, esp one in rebellion against the Crown


of, characteristic of, or relating to Whigs
Derived FormsWhiggery or Whiggism, nounWhiggish, adjectiveWhiggishly, adverbWhiggishness, noun

Word Origin for Whig

C17: probably shortened from whiggamore, one of a group of 17th-century Scottish rebels who joined in an attack on Edinburgh known as the whiggamore raid; probably from Scottish whig to drive (of obscure origin) + more, mer, maire horse, mare 1
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 whig


British political party, 1657, in part perhaps a disparaging use of whigg "a country bumpkin" (1640s); but mainly a shortened form of Whiggamore (1649) "one of the adherents of the Presbyterian cause in western Scotland who marched on Edinburgh in 1648 to oppose Charles I." Perhaps originally "a horse drover," from dialectal verb whig "to urge forward" + mare. In 1689 the name was first used in reference to members of the British political party that opposed the Tories. American Revolution sense of "colonist who opposes Crown policies" is from 1768. Later it was applied to opponents of Andrew Jackson (as early as 1825), and taken as the name of a political party (1834) that merged into the Republican Party in 1854-56.

[I]n the spring of 1834 Jackson's opponents adopted the name Whig, traditional term for critics of executive usurpations. James Watson Webb, editor of the New York Courier and Enquirer, encouraged use of the name. [Henry] Clay gave it national currency in a speech on April 14, 1834, likening "the whigs of the present day" to those who had resisted George III, and by summer it was official. [Daniel Walker Howe, "What Hath God Wrought," 2007, p.390]

Whig historian is recorded from 1924. Whig history is "the tendency in many historians ... to emphasise certain principles of progress in the past and to produce a story which is the ratification if not the glorification of the present." [Herbert Butterfield, "The Whig Interpretation of History," 1931]

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper