Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Word of the day: wag

The word of the day is wag:

— noun

  1. the act of wagging: friendly wag ofthe tail.
  2. person given to droll, roguish, or mischievous humor; wit.

early 13 c., probably from Scand. source (cf. O.N. vagga "a cradle," Dan. vugge "rock cradle," O.Swed. wagga "fluctuate"), and in part from O.E. wagian "move backwards and forwards;" all from P. Gmc. *wagojanan (cf. O.H.G. weggen, Goth. wagjan "to wag"), probably from PIE base *wegh- "to move about" (see weigh). Wagtail is attested from c.1500 as kind of small bird; 18 c. as "a harlot," but seems to be implied much earlier: "If therefore thou make not thy mistress goldfinch, thou mayst chance to find her wagtaile." [Lyly, "Midas," 1592] Wag-at-the-wall (1825) was an old name for hanging clock with pendulum and weights exposed.

"person fond of making jokes," 1553, perhaps shortening of waghalter "gallows bird," person destined to swing in noose or halter, applied humorously to mischievous children, from wag (v.) halter. Or possibly directly from wag (v.).


"To house his workers Ford built a replica of a middle-class Michigan town, complete with a hospital, schools, stores, movie theaters, Methodist churches, and wooden bungalows on tree-lined streets...  Wags immediately dubbed the project Fordlândia."

 - Charles Mann, 1493: Uncovering the New World Columbus Created

No comments: