From Middle English waggen, probably from Old English wagian (“to wag, wave, shake”) with reinforcement from Old Norse vaga (“to wag, waddle”); both from Proto-Germanic *wagōną (“to wag”). Related to English way.
The verb may be regarded as an iterative or emphatic form of waw (verb), which is often nearly synonymous; it was used, e.g., of a loose tooth. Parallel formations from the same root are the Old Norse vagga feminine, cradle (Swedish vagga, Danish vugge), Swedish vagga (“to rock a cradle”), Dutch wagen (“to move”), early modern German waggen (dialectal German wacken) to waver, totter. Compare waggle, verb
wag (third-person singular simple present wags, present participle wagging, simple past and past participle wagged)
- To swing from side to side, such as of an animal's tail, or someone's head, to express disagreement or disbelief.
- (Britain, Australia, slang) To play truant from school.
- (obsolete) To be in action or motion; to move; progress.
- (obsolete) To go; to depart.
wag (plural wags)
- An oscillating movement.
- A witty person.