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


Possibly they recognized the Coyote of the house-yard as she stood there wagging her tail.

The idea of Turkey wagging his head in a pulpit made me laugh.

They were both gone, she replied, wagging her ancient head, for good.

He was perking up his big ears and wagging his stump of a tail in front of him.

How I came to keep my tongue from wagging out the truth I scarcely know.

His tail is wagging when he sits, His paws are helpful baseball mitts.

“Nay,” said the turnspits, wagging their tails and laughing.

He lifted himself, wagging his sword, showing his great silvery side.

Spotty appeared at the barn door, wagging his tail engagingly.

"Just what I said all along, my boy," remarked the experienced Gerald, wagging his head sagely.


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.