Roget's 21st Century Thesaurus, Third Edition Copyright © 2013 by the Philip Lief Group.


Old Bob wagged his head in slow negation; young William lifted his.

Then she wagged the stump of her tail, and they considered themselves acquainted.

And I'd have broke the head of the first man that'd wagged a tongue.

"To ward off possible traitors," she told him, and Marius smiled and wagged his head.

Beth wagged her head like a solemn child and then laid her other hand on his.

He wagged his head and the long black sword made a half-circle.

And old Angus wagged his head and said, "Canny lass, the widdy!"

Jerry Dodd looked reproachfully at Daphne and wagged his head.

"The south is a big section of the country," and Ruth wagged her head.

Here the dog placidly stood and wagged its tail, looking up at us.


early 13c., "waver, vacillate, lack steadfastness," probably from a Scandinavian source (cf. Old Norse vagga "a cradle," Danish vugge "rock a cradle," Old Swedish wagga "fluctuate"), and in part from Old English wagian "move backwards and forwards;" all from Proto-Germanic *wagojanan (cf. Old High German weggen, Gothic wagjan "to wag"), probably from PIE root *wegh- "to move about" (see weigh). Meaning "to move back and forth or up and down" is from c.1300. Wagtail is attested from c.1500 as a kind of small bird (late 12c. as a surname); 18c. as "a harlot," but seems to be implied much earlier:

Wag-at-the-wall (1825) was an old name for a hanging clock with pendulum and weights exposed.