Definitions

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

  • n. Any of numerous social or solitary insects, chiefly of the superfamilies Vespoidea and Sphecoidea, having a slender body with a constricted abdomen, two pairs of membranous wings, mouths adapted for biting or sucking, and in the females an ovipositor often modified as a sting.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. Any of many types of stinging flying insect resembling a hornet or bee.
  • n. A person who behaves in an angry or insolent way, hence waspish.
  • n. A member of the dominant American upper-class culture, a white Anglo-Saxon Protestant.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. Any one of numerous species of stinging hymenopterous insects, esp. any of the numerous species of the genus Vespa, which includes the true, or social, wasps, some of which are called yellow jackets.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. Any one of several families, many genera, and very numerous species of aculeate hymenopterous insects, whose wings fold lengthwise in a peculiar manner when the insects rest, which insects are hence collectively called Diploptera.
  • n. Figuratively, a person characterized by ill nature, petulance, peevishness, irritability, or petty malignity.

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

  • n. social or solitary hymenopterans typically having a slender body with the abdomen attached by a narrow stalk and having a formidable sting
  • n. a white person of Anglo-Saxon ancestry who belongs to a Protestant denomination

Etymologies

Middle English waspe, from Old English wæps, wæsp.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
Originally an acronym for White Anglo-Saxon Protestant. (Wiktionary)

Examples

  • The omitted chapter introduced a wasp, in the character of a judge or barrister, I suppose, since Mr. Tenniel wrote that "a _wasp_ in a _wig_ is altogether beyond the appliances of art."

    The Life and Letters of Lewis Carroll (Rev. C. L. Dodgson)

  • "The term 'wasp' elicits a certain fear, though ours don't sting people and are friendly," Mr. Lewis says.

    NYT > Home Page

  • Someone has said that a wasp is a comfortable house-mate in comparison; it only stings when disturbed, but a habitual, discontented fretter stings with or without provocation.

    Archive 2009-02-01

  • I saw the same flock gnawing throgh the galls on the local milkweed plants which I know contain wasp larva.

    Think Progress » Fifteen States Have Polluter-Driven Resolutions To Deny Climate Threat

  • And I looked up, and there it was - a big frickin 'wasp, about seven inches away from my face.

    The Weird Will Sing When I Am King

  • Fabre's "Souvenirs," and yet we were not at all prepared to believe that any plain American wasp could supply us with such a thrilling performance as that of the Gallic _hirsuta_, which he so dramatically describes.

    A Book of Natural History Young Folks' Library Volume XIV.

  • We’re so sheltered here – the odd bee or wasp is the worst we have (of course, to someone who is allergic, that’s not a minor thing, either).

    Sunday Scribblings-Masks

  • The other night, on TV, my husband and I heard that the government spends 4 million to train wasp and I can’t get help from The White House or our Senators or Congress, to defend myself against a corporation which is taking advantage and lying about this situation?

    Coyote Blog » Blog Archive » Women’s Rights Groups Have Lost Their Way

  • And though Cyprus-born designer Hussein Chalayan called his wasp-waist 1950s silk party dresses shredded in tatters "an unfortunate coincidence," some editors wept at the sight of them -- a poignant commentary on the beauty of the Towers and New York's shattered innocence.

    Vive La Mode!

  • They're put inside this device, called the wasp pound.

    CNN Transcript Feb 15, 2006

Wordnik is becoming a not-for-profit! Read our announcement here.

Comments

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


  • When the ripe pears droop heavily,
    The yellow wasp hums loud and long
    His hot and drowsy autumn song:
    A yellow flame he seems to be,
    When darting suddenly from high
    He lights where fallen peaches lie.

    Yellow and black - this tiny thing's
    A tiger-soul on elfin wings.

    - William Sharp, 'The Wasp'.

    November 9, 2008

  • Somewhere around Barnsley, I'll wager. I'll investigate further.

    March 13, 2008

  • I'm sure there must be a British dialect in which wasp rhymes with grasp.

    March 13, 2008

  • White Anglo-Saxon Protestant

    February 28, 2007