Merriam-Webster Word of the Day: Waggish

The Merriam-Webster Word of the Day is waggish. Read on for what it means, how it’s used, and more.

What It Means

Waggish means “resembling or characteristic of a wag”—a wag being a clever person who is prone to joking—and is also a synonym of humorous.

// With a wink and a waggish grin she emptied the sugar bowl and refilled it with salt.

WAGGISH in Context

“[William Taylor Ramage] underscores the hybrid nature of these works—his own splatter and drip paintings paired with a vintage photo of Pollock—with the waggish signature ‘W.T. Jackson.’” — Pamela Polston, Seven Days (Burlington, Vermont), 11 May 2022

Did You Know?

One who is waggish acts like a wag. What, then, is a wag? It has nothing to do with a dog’s tail; in this case a wag is a clever person prone to joking. Though light-hearted in its use and meaning, the probable source of this particular wag is grim: it is thought to be short for waghalter, an obsolete English word that translates as gallows bird, a gallows bird being someone thought to be deserving of hanging. The wag in waghalter is the familiar wag having to do with movement, and halter is another word for a noose.

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