Definitions

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

  • noun Any of numerous social or solitary hymenopterans of the suborder Apocrita, especially of the family Vespidae, that characteristically have a slender hairless body with a constricted abdomen, two pairs of membranous wings, a mouth adapted for biting or sucking, and in the females an ovipositor sometimes modified as a sting.

from The Century Dictionary.

  • noun 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.
  • noun Figuratively, a person characterized by ill nature, petulance, peevishness, irritability, or petty malignity.

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

  • noun (Zoöl.) 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.
  • noun any one of numerous species of solitary wasps that make their nests in burrows which they dig in the ground, as the sand wasps. See Sand wasp, under Sand.
  • noun See under Mud.
  • noun See under Potter.
  • noun a species of fly resembling a wasp, but without a sting.

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

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

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

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

Etymologies

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

[Middle English waspe, from Old English wæps, wæsp.]

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

Originally an acronym for White Anglo-Saxon Protestant.

Examples

Comments

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  • White Anglo-Saxon Protestant

    February 28, 2007

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

    March 13, 2008

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

    March 13, 2008

  • 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