The Meaning of Wasp: What It Is and How To Use It

Do you know the definition of wasp? This article will provide you with all of the information you need on the word wasp, including its definition, etymology, usage, example sentences, and more!

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What does the word wasp mean?

According to Urban Dictionary and Collins English Dictionary, the acronym WASP stands for White Anglo-Saxon Protestant. This is a slang term that refers to a Christian, white upper middle class person. These people usually go to prep schools and give off an upper-class energy. While this term specifically refers to protestant denominations, it can be used in reference to any person that gives off the same New England area upper class energy as WASPs. Other sects of Christianity include Presbyterian, Congregationalist, and Anglican as well as Protestants and Saxons. WASPs and members of the Protestant group can come from the British Isles or anywhere else, and are often Americans found in the northeast of the United States, like New England and New York. This term is used with derision since the Protestant establishment dominates economic, political, and cultural activity with regard to sociology.

Merriam-Webster Unabridged Dictionary of the English language and American Heritage also state that the term wasp is used to refer to social or solitary winged hymenopterous insects that have a slender body that is smooth, in which the abdomen is attached by a narrow stalk. These insects are often from the families Sphecidae and Vespidae (multiple genera, esp Vespula vulgaris) and have an abdomen attached by a narrow stalk. They will also have biting mouthparts and well-developed wings, and the females and workers can have a formidable sting. Often, these insects are carnivorous and eat insects or spiders that they paralyze with their sting. Their stinger, or ovipositor, is quite powerful and painful, even to humans. There are many types of these various solitary hymenopterans, including the common wasp, digger wasp, spider wasps, mason wasp potter wasp, and gall wasp. These solitary hymenopterous insects of the vespidae family usually have a yellow body with black stripes and a narrow waist, constricted abdomen, pairs of membranous wings, and a slender hairless body. Wasps have a three-part body including a head, thorax, and abdomen.

The pronunciation of both forms of the word wasp is wɒsp. Your Dictionary states that WASP can also stand for Women’s Airforce Service Pilots (W(omen’s) A(irforce) S(ervice) P(ilots)), which were organized during World War II as part of the US Army Air Forces. They were responsible for ferrying aircrafts and testing new aircraft. 

How can the word wasp be used in a sentence?

The word wasp can be used in many different sentences to refer to either a White Anglo-Saxon Protestant or an insect. The term waspish can also be used to refer to a person who is insolent or behaves like the insect lost. Below are many different examples of wasp. Try using this term in a sentence today. Using words in a sentence is a great way to memorize their definition. 

When the young woman arrived at Princeton University, she was shocked at the number of WASPs that were on campus. She had never felt like a member of a minority group before, but now she felt very out of place. 

The little boy got stung by a wasp at the pool and cried for the rest of the day. 

The old teacher had a bitter, waspish personality. Nobody wanted to be in her class, because they knew that she would make their life a living hell for an entire school year. She had been teaching 10th grade English for 50 years, and had never once changed her curriculum. She felt that the way to get students to learn was through tough assignments and criticism. 

While Rebecca really wanted to find a friend with a boat for the summer, she could not bring herself to befriend all of the WASPs that attended the prep school she got a scholarship to. She found them insufferable. 

The friends thought they would have a magical, fun picnic in the park. However, when a wasp’s nest fell on their picnic blanket, their day turned from amazing to hellish in a matter of seconds. They had to go to the emergency room because one of them was allergic to bees. 

What is the origin of the word wasp?

According to Etymonline, the acronym WASP has been used since 1955. The noun wasp comes from the Middle English waspe, from the Old English wæps or wæsp, which was a metathetic variant of wæps, or a variant of wæfs. This was probably influenced by the Latin vespa, and comes from the Proto-Germanic wabis, which is also the source of the Old Saxon waspa, Middle Dutch wespe, Dutch wesp, Old High German wafsa, German Wespe, and Danish hveps. This comes from the Proto-Indo-European roots wopsa and wospa which also stemmed the Latin vespa, Lithuanian vapsa, Old Church Slavonic vosa, and Old irish foich. This may be from the root huebsch, meaning weave, which could be a reference to the shape of the insect’s nest. Someone who is waspish (adj.) behaves like a wasp, in an insolent way, much like the solitary hymenopterans of the suborder Apocrita.

Overall, the abbreviation WASP means white Anglo-Saxon protestant (W(hite) A(nglo-)S(axon) P(rotestant)), which references an American upper class or upper-middle class person. This member of the dominant American upper-class culture is a white person of Anglo-Saxon ancestry. The term wasp can also refer to the social hymenopterous insect of the family Vespidae. It can also refer to a member of the Women Air Force Service Pilots.

Sources:

  1. Wasp | Urban Dictionary 
  2. Wasp | Definition of Wasp | Merriam-Webster 
  3. Wasp definition and meaning | Collins English Dictionary 
  4. Wasp Meaning | Best 12 Definitions of Wasp | Your Dictionary 
  5. wasp | Origin and meaning of wasp | Online Etymology Dictionary