Definitions

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

  • intransitive v. To move briskly and repeatedly from side to side, to and fro, or up and down.
  • intransitive v. To move rapidly in talking. Used of the tongue.
  • intransitive v. To walk with a clumsy sway; waddle.
  • intransitive v. Archaic To be on one's way; depart.
  • transitive v. To move (a body part) rapidly from side to side or up and down, as in playfulness, agreement, admonition, or chatter.
  • n. The act or motion of wagging: a farewell wag of the hand.
  • n. A humorous or droll person; a wit.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • v. To swing from side to side, especially of an animal's tail
  • v. To not go to school, either for a class or classes or the entire school day.
  • n. An oscillating movement.
  • n. A witty person.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. The act of wagging; a shake.
  • n. A man full of sport and humor; a ludicrous fellow; a humorist; a wit; a joker.
  • intransitive v. To move one way and the other; to be shaken to and fro; to vibrate.
  • intransitive v. To be in action or motion; to move; to get along; to progress; to stir.
  • intransitive v. To go; to depart; to pack oft.
  • transitive v. To move one way and the other with quick turns; to shake to and fro; to move vibratingly; to cause to vibrate, as a part of the body.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • To cause to move up and down, backward and forward, or from side to side, alternately, as a small body jointed or attached to, or connected with, a larger one; cause to move one way or another, as on a pivot or joint, or on or from something by which the body moved is supported; cause to shake, oscillate, or vibrate slightly.
  • To nudge.
  • To move backward and forward, up and down, or from side to side, alternately, as if connected with a larger body by a joint. pivot, or any flexible or loose attachment; oscillate; sway or swing; vibrate: an arrow is said to wag when it vibrates in the air.
  • To be in motion or action; make progress; continue a course or career; stir.
  • To move on or away; be off; depart; pack off; be gone.
  • n. The act of wagging; a shake; an oscillation.
  • n. One who is given to joking or jesting; a witty or humorous person; one full of sport and humor; a droll fellow.
  • n. A fellow: used with a shade of meaning sometimes slurring, sometimes affectionate, but without any attribution of humor or pleasantry.

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

  • n. causing to move repeatedly from side to side
  • v. move from side to side
  • n. a witty amusing person who makes jokes

Etymologies

Middle English waggen; see wegh- in Indo-European roots.
Perhaps from wag1.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
Middle English waggen, noun wagge, feminine root of Old English waian, (Middle English noun wae) to oscillate, shake. Compare the Old English verb waġian (Wiktionary)

Examples

  • At the moment, therefore, the description of "CAP of the sky" attributed by an anonymous wag, is looking to be all too appropriate.

    The CAP of the sky?

  • Diehard Conservatives in the US may have loved him, but he gave new meaning to the terms wag the dog and political spin doctoring.

    The Aurora: News

  • Perhaps Selwyn might have been called a "wag" -- a name given to men who were more enterprising than successful in their humour, and which referred originally to mere ludicrous motion.

    History of English Humour, Vol. 2 (of 2)

  • Your characters and my characters would get along find should they ever cross paths – they’d just be able to sit and chin wag!

    Knowing Your Process: What « Write Anything

  • One, who can only be described as a wag, attempted to do so by defining each word as follows:

    Canadian Labour—Today

  • "Telephone for Boston Bean," called the wag of an office boy.

    Bunker Bean

  • "I find I'm mistaken," called the wag, down the table.

    Uncle Sam's Boys in the Ranks or, Two Recruits in the United States Army

  • Hi Tom, I never knew if the wag was the school board man or the school! just knew if I skipped school without Mum knowing and she alway, always found out, call it Mothers sixth sense .. even before I confessed and had to ask for a note for the teacher because in the old days as well we all know it had to be supplied first day back at school ... if pushed Mum would write down 'I poor suffering child had another bilious attack' which went down reasonably well with the teacher until she asked me what it was ...

    London SE1 community website

  • Gen. Larry Nicholson flew in for a commanders 'meeting at Camp Delhi today, he was asked to bring with him a fresh supply of plastic "wag" bags that Marines use to dispose of human waste.

    Marines Waiting on Basic Supplies

  • Gen. Larry Nicholson flew in for a commanders' meeting at Camp Delhi today, he was asked to bring with him a fresh supply of plastic "wag" bags that Marines use to dispose of human waste.

    Marines Waiting on Basic Supplies

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  • (W)ild (A)ss (G)uess

    August 2, 2008

  • UK vernacular = wives and girlfriends

    July 21, 2008