from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition.

  • noun A small mass of soft material, often folded or rolled, used for padding, stuffing, or packing.
  • noun A compressed ball, roll, or lump, as of tobacco or chewing gum.
  • noun A plug, as of cloth or paper, used to retain a powder charge in a muzzleloading gun or cannon.
  • noun A disk, as of felt or paper, used to keep the powder and shot in place in a shotgun cartridge.
  • noun Informal A large amount.
  • noun A sizable roll of paper money.
  • noun A considerable amount of money.
  • noun Vulgar Slang An ejaculation of semen.
  • transitive verb To compress into a wad.
  • transitive verb To pad, pack, line, or plug with wadding.
  • transitive verb To hold (shot or powder) in place with a wad.
  • transitive verb To insert a wad into (a firearm).

from The Century Dictionary.

  • A Scotch form of would.
  • noun An impure earthy ore of manganese, which consists of manganese dioxid associated with the oxid of iron, cobalt, or copper. When mixed with linseed-oil for a paint it is apt to take fire. Also called bog-manganese, earthy manganese.
  • noun Same as plumbago.
  • To form into a wad or into wadding; press together into a mass, as fibrous material.
  • To line with wadding, as a garment, to give more roundness or fullness to the figure, keep out the cold, render soft, or protect in any way.
  • To pad; stuff; fill out with or as with wadding.
  • To put a wad into, as the barrel of a gun; also, to hold in place by a wad, as a bullet.
  • A Scotch form of wed.
  • noun A small bunch or wisp of rags, hay, hair, wool, or other fibrous material, used for stuffing, for lessening the shock of hard bodies against each other, or for packing.
  • noun Specifically, something, as a piece of cloth, paper, or leather, used to hold the powder or bullet, or both, in place in a gun or cartridge.
  • noun In ceramics, a small piece of finer clay used to cover the body of an inferior material in some varieties of earthenware; especially, the piece doubled over the edge of a vessel.
  • noun An obsolete or dialectal form of woad.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English.

  • noun An earthy oxide of manganese, or mixture of different oxides and water, with some oxide of iron, and often silica, alumina, lime, or baryta; black ocher. There are several varieties.
  • noun Plumbago, or black lead.
  • noun A little mass, tuft, or bundle, as of hay or tow.
  • noun Specifically: A little mass of some soft or flexible material, such as hay, straw, tow, paper, or old rope yarn, used for retaining a charge of powder in a gun, or for keeping the powder and shot close; also, to diminish or avoid the effects of windage. Also, by extension, a dusk of felt, pasteboard, etc., serving a similar purpose.
  • noun A soft mass, especially of some loose, fibrous substance, used for various purposes, as for stopping an aperture, padding a garment, etc.
  • noun a rod with a screw or hook at the end, used for removing the wad from a gun.
  • noun obsolete Woad.
  • transitive verb To form into a mass, or wad, or into wadding.
  • transitive verb To insert or crowd a wad into; ; also, to stuff or line with some soft substance, or wadding, like cotton.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License.

  • noun An amorphous, compact mass.
  • noun A substantial pile (normally of money).
  • noun A soft plug or seal, particularly as used between the powder and pellets in a shotgun cartridge.
  • noun vulgar, slang an ejaculate of semen.
  • noun mineralogy Any black manganese oxide or hydroxide mineral rich rock in the oxidized zone of various ore deposits
  • verb To crumple or crush into a compact, amorphous shape or ball.
  • verb Ulster to wager

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • noun a small mass of soft material
  • noun (often followed by `of') a large number or amount or extent
  • noun a wad of something chewable as tobacco
  • verb compress into a wad
  • verb crowd or pack to capacity


from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

[Origin unknown.]

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

Probably short for Middle English wadmal ("woolen cloth"), from Old Norse váðmál ("woolen stuff"), from váð (“cloth”) +‎ mál (“measure”). See wadmal. Cognate with Swedish vadd ("wadding, cotton wool"), German Watte ("wad, padding, cotton wool"), Dutch watten ("cotton wool"), Old English wǣd ("garment, clothing"). More at weed, meal.


Help support Wordnik (and make this page ad-free) by adopting the word wad.



Log in or sign up to get involved in the conversation. It's quick and easy.

  • "2. Specifically, something, as a piece of cloth, paper, or leather, used to hold the powder or bullet, or both, in place in a gun or cartridge. For ordinary double- or single-barreled shot-guns, wads are disks of felt, leather, or pasteboard cut by machinery or by a hand-tool, often indented to allow passage of air in ramming home, and sometimes specially treated with a composition which helps to keep the barrels from fouling." --Cent. Dict.

    May 5, 2011