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Wagabee also Wagabe or Waggabe

noun [countable] informal

a young woman who wants to be the wife or girlfriend of a famous professional football player

'But the wannabe WAGs, known on the scene as Wagabees, don't just spend their time trying to catch a footballer – they also make vicious attempts at destroying the chances of any other girl.'

The Sun24th September 2010

It seems that there's a particular group of young women with a keen interest in football, but the 'match' they want to play a part in doesn't involve kicking a ball around. If she's young, beautiful and downright desperate to acquire the glamorous lifestyle of a WAG, then what does that make her? A Wagabee of course!

sociologists argue that the concept of the Wagabee reflects a shift towards the desire for fast fame and fortune

If a WAG is the wife or girlfriend of a famous footballer, then a wannabe WAG, or Wagabee, is a young woman who will go out of her way to date footballers, her sole aim to secure future WAG status. And it seems that 'going out of her way' means truly stopping at nothing, since being a Wagabee is a highly competitive business. In ruthless pursuit of a footballer to call her own, the Wagabee might resort to extreme measures in order to disadvantage her competitors, such as spreading unpleasant rumours about them, spiking their drinks with drugs or alcohol, or even fighting. Like any sporting professional, the Wagabee needs the appropriate 'kit', which often consists of hair extensions, and an outfit which exposes as much of her slim, voluptuous, fake-tanned figure as possible. The savvy Wagabee also doesn't leave anything to chance, signing up to be on the list of a so-called 'promoter' who keeps her informed of the places where footballers are planning to party.

Wagabees are thought to be inspired by the likes of Coleen McLoughlin and Alex Curran, 'ordinary' young women who married high-profile footballers Wayne Rooney and Steven Gerrard. Sociologists argue that the concept of the Wagabee reflects a shift towards the desire for fast fame and fortune, with young women valuing their bodies more than their brains as the asset most likely to make them rich and successful. Like WAG before it, the word Wagabee has rather derogatory overtones, showing a lack of respect for such women which borders on sexism.

Background – Wagabee

Wagabee is a blend of WAG, an acronym of wife and girlfriend, which first hit the spotlight during the 2006 World Cup as an informal reference to the partners of famous footballers, and wannabe, an informal word for a person who wants to be famous or successful. Like WAG and Wagabee, wannabe is also rather derogatory, first appearing in the 1980s to represent an informal pronunciation of 'want to be'. Wagabee is spelt in various ways as shown above, but the most common form is with double e, forcing the pronunciation of a long vowel at the end. Though WAG still largely occurs in capitalized form, Wagabee doesn't seem to occur as WAGabee, though usually retains the initial capital 'W'.

The male counterpart to the WAG is the HAB, an acronym of husband and boyfriend, which is used to refer to the male partners of famous sportswomen (often tennis players) or female celebrities (especially the members of girl bands). Although there is still some evidence of use, HAB has been far less quick to establish itself, and there is, unsurprisingly, no evidence of a corresponding term Hababee. WAG on the other hand has earned itself a place in many established dictionaries, and been subject to various playful modifications, among them the term RAG, an acronym of royal and girlfriend, which was used in reference to Kate Middleton prior to her recent marriage to Prince William. Another acronym describing wives in a sporting context is WOW, short for Wives of Wimbledon, which refers to a wife or girlfriend of a professional tennis player competing at the Wimbledon tennis championships.

by Kerry Maxwell, author of Brave New Words

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This article was first published on 8th August 2011.

Open Dictionary

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