Build your vocabulary with Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day! Each day a Merriam-Webster editor offers insight into a fascinating new word -- explaining its meaning, current use, and little-known details about its origin.
October 15th, 2016
Episode 678 of 720 episodes
Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day for October 15, 2016 is: waggish \WAG-ish\ adjective 1 : resembling or characteristic of a wag : displaying good-humored mischief 2 : done or made for sport : humorous Examples: "A warm person who enjoys banter with often-waggishreporters, [Elizabeth] Brenner joked that her next move would be to take a newspaper-carrier route in Pewaukee. 'No, that's not what I'm going to do,' she quickly added. 'Can't get up that early.'" — Rick Romell, The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, 17 May 2016 "The waggish reaction to Guaranteed Rate's name and arrow logo is like the feedback Energy Solutions received when its name replaced that of Delta Air Lines on the Utah Jazz's arena a decade ago. Energy Solutions' business—disposing of low-level nuclear waste in the Utah desert—led to people calling the arena the Dump, the Isotope and Radium Stadium." — Richard Sandomir, The New York Times, 25 Aug. 2016 Did you know? One who is waggish acts like a wag. What, then, is a wag? Etymologists think wag probably came from waghalter, a word that was once used for a gallows bird (that is, a person who was going to be, or deserved to be, hanged). Waghalter was apparently shortened to wag and used jokingly or affectionately for mischievous pranksters or youths. Hence a wag is a joker, and waggery is merriment or practical joking. Waggish can describe the prank itself as well as the prankster type; the class clown might be said to have a "waggish disposition" or be prone to "waggish antics."