Definitions

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

  • intransitive verb To move back and forth; wag steadily or rhythmically.
  • intransitive verb To signal by waving a flag, light, or an upraised arm, especially in accordance with a code.
  • intransitive verb To move (something) back and forth steadily or rhythmically.
  • intransitive verb To convey (a message or signal) by waving a flag, light, or an upraised arm.
  • noun The act or practice of wigwagging.
  • noun A message sent by this method.

from The Century Dictionary.

  • To move to and fro; specifically, to signal by movements of flags.
  • To and fro; with wiggling motion: as, to go wigwag back and forth.
  • Writhing, wriggling, or twisting.
  • noun A rubbing instrument used by watchmakers. It is attached by a crank to a wheel of a lathe, which gives it a longitudinal movement of reciprocation.
  • noun Signaling by the movements of flags: as, to practise the wigwag.

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

  • intransitive verb (Naut.), colloq. To signal by means of a flag waved from side to side according to a code adopted for the purpose.
  • verb To move to and fro, to wag.
  • noun Act or art of wigwagging; a message wigwagged; -- chiefly attributive.

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

  • noun Any of a number of mechanical or electrical devices which cause a component to oscillate between two states.
  • verb to oscillate between two states.
  • verb to send a signal by waving a single flag.

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

  • verb signal by or as if by a flag or light waved according to a code
  • verb send a signal by waving a flag or a light according to a certain code

Etymologies

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

[Dialectal wig, to move + wag.]

Examples

  • Myer is heralded as the father of the corps because of his nomination and his invention of the colored flag-based signaling system called "wigwag" -- named after the back-and-forth motion of the flags used to create the messages.

    The Augusta Chronicle

  • "You're up in all that kind of wigwag signal work, and perhaps now you could tell what it means."

    The Chums of Scranton High on the Cinder Path

  • A "wigwag" flag may be easily made by sewing a white square of muslin in the centre of a red bandana handkerchief.

    A Gunner Aboard the "Yankee"

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

    A Gunner Aboard the "Yankee"

  • The absence of the "wigwag" system made it impossible to convey intelligible messages.

    Truxton King A Story of Graustark

  • A burst of static obscured the end of an obscene Polish remark, and Rakoczy flew off with a wigwag of farewell.

    Songs of Love & Death

  • A burst of static obscured the end of an obscene Polish remark, and Rakoczy flew off with a wigwag of farewell.

    Songs of Love & Death

  • A burst of static obscured the end of an obscene Polish remark, and Rakoczy flew off with a wigwag of farewell.

    Songs of Love & Death

  • The dragon came close enough to recognize them, did a wings wigwag, and flew away.

    Pet Peeve

  • The best he could do was send a man up into an exposed position to make wigwag semaphore signals to Derfflinger astern, to pass the news along.

    Castles of Steel

Comments

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  • "Gregory Currie, a Werribee software developer, was on his way to work and walked through the open gates of a pedestrian crossing through which city-bound trains pass.A Werribee-bound train was passing on the other side of the platform and the boom gates across Old Geelong Road were shut, as was the other pedestrian crossing on the other side of the station.

    Mr Currie was stopped by Mario Cricchiola, a Metro authorised officer, who took his details and warned him he would likely be issued with an infringement notice. The matter went to the Werribee Magistrates Court in April, where Mr Currie defended himself against the charge of ''crossing a railway line at a place … for pedestrians when a wigwag (flashing signal) was operating at an immediately adjacent vehicular crossing''.

    - Adam Carey, Safey rule at railway crossing, theage.com.au, 17 August 2012.

    August 16, 2012