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See more synonyms for wigwag on Thesaurus.com
verb (used with or without object), wig·wagged, wig·wag·ging.
  1. to move to and fro.
  2. Nautical. to signal by movements of two flags or the like waved according to a code.
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  1. Nautical. the act or process of sending messages by the movements of two flags or the like waved according to a code.
  2. a message so signaled.
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Origin of wigwag

1575–85; wig to wag (now dial.) + wag; gradational compound, parallel to zigzag, etc.
Related formswig·wag·ger, noun
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Related Words

fly, flap, twirl, swing, wield, brandish, twist, shake, flutter, quiver, stream, reel, quaver, direct, pulse, sign, beckon, seesaw, ripple, gesticulate

Examples from the Web for wigwag

Historical Examples

  • The pole which had been used to convey the wigwag signals was now out of sight.

    Boy Scouts in the Philippines

    G. Harvey Ralphson

  • If it be a Graycoat, it will answer with the same, the wigwag: "I'm a Squirrel, too."


    Ernest Thompson Seton

  • Unlike the "wigwag" system, the whole letter is shown at once.

  • After parleying for a while, one of the landing party was seen to wigwag.

  • The signal outfit consists of the International Code, Navy numerals and wigwag flags.

British Dictionary definitions for wigwag


verb -wags, -wagging or -wagged
  1. to move (something) back and forth
  2. to communicate with (someone) by means of a flag semaphore
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    1. a system of communication by flag semaphore
    2. the message signalled
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Derived Formswigwagger, noun

Word Origin

C16: from obsolete wig, probably short for wiggle + wag 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