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[wag-teyl] /ˈwægˌteɪl/
any of numerous small, chiefly Old World birds of the family Motacillidae, having a slender body with a long, narrow tail that is habitually wagged up and down.
any of several similar birds, as the water thrushes of the genus Seiurus.
Origin of wagtail
1500-10; wag + tail1 Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for wagtail
Historical Examples
  • If poor wagtail was amazed before she spoke, what must his confusion be on hearing this address!

  • Soon he was at the paper store, where he bought what Mrs. wagtail wanted.

  • It was a small creature, clothed in black and white, which tripped along like a wagtail.

    Birds of the Plains Douglas Dewar
  • The wagtail most likely to be seen is the grey wagtail (Motacilla melanope).

  • Different from the cocks or the wagtail he, if he could speak, would agree with me on this point at least.

    The Secrets of a Kuttite Edward O. Mousley
  • These display the elegant form of the wagtail and the sober colouring of the lark.

  • Dainty as a wagtail she is arrayed in black and white like some motacillas.

    Glimpses of Indian Birds Douglas Dewar
  • And I,” cried wagtail, “can tie a bandage, although I am not a surgeon.

    Hair Breadth Escapes T. S. Arthur
  • The hooker is among vessels what the wagtail is among birds—one of the smallest and one of the boldest.

    The Man Who Laughs Victor Hugo
  • wagtail, who was not much of a shot, sat on deck and passed the weapons up and down.

    Hair Breadth Escapes T. S. Arthur
British Dictionary definitions for wagtail


any of various passerine songbirds of the genera Motacilla and Dendronanthus, of Eurasia and Africa, having a very long tail that wags when the bird walks: family Motacillidae
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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