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Alternative forms[edit]


  • (UK) IPA(key): /ˈwɒ.ləʊ/
  • Rhymes: -ɒləʊ
  • (file)

Etymology 1[edit]

From Middle English walowen, walewen, walwen, welwen, from Old English wealwian (to roll), from Proto-West Germanic *walwōn, variant of *walwijan, from Proto-Germanic *walwijaną (to roll), from Proto-Indo-European *welw-, from Proto-Indo-European *welH- (to turn, wind, roll). Cognate with Latin volvō (roll, tumble, verb).


wallow (third-person singular simple present wallows, present participle wallowing, simple past and past participle wallowed) (intransitive)

  1. To roll oneself about in something dirty, for example in mud.
    Pigs wallow in the mud.
  2. To move lazily or heavily in any medium.
    • 1875, Isabella L. Bird, The Hawaiian Archipelago[1]:
      The fire was thrown to a great height; the fountains and jets all wallowed together; new ones appeared, and danced joyously round the margin, then converging towards the centre they merged into one glowing mass, which upheaved itself pyramidally and disappeared with a vast plunge.
    • 2021 May 5, Drachinifel, 43:29 from the start, in Battle of Samar - What if TF34 was there?[2], archived from the original on 19 August 2022:
      Amongst the cruisers, it's not such good news. New Orleans is sunk; Wichita is wallowing and desperately in need of assistance, which two destroyers are providing; meanwhile, Biloxi and Vincennes are both in the process of going down and being abandoned, whilst Miami is right on the knife-edge of being recoverable, with three destroyers clustering around offering pumping and additional damage-control crews to try and keep the light cruiser afloat.
  3. (figurative) To immerse oneself in, to occupy oneself with, metaphorically.
    She wallowed in her misery.
    • 1610, Alexander Cooke, “Pope Joane”, in William Oldys, editor, The Harleian Miscellany: [], volume IV, London: T[homas] Osborne, [], published 1745, →OCLC, page 125:
      If there be any lazy Fellow, any that cannot away with Work, any that would wallow in Pleaſures, he is haſty to be prieſted. And, when he is made one, and hath gotten a Benefice, he conſorts with his Neighbour Prieſts, who are altogether given to Pleaſures; and then both he, and they, live, not like Chriſtians, but like Epicures; drinking, eating, feaſting, and revelling, till the Cow come Home, as the saying is; [...]
    • 1894, George du Maurier, “Part Third”, in Trilby: A Novel, New York, N.Y.: Harper & Brothers, →OCLC, page 165:
      With the help of a sleepy waiter, Little Billee got the bacchanalian into his room and lit his candle for him, and, disengaging himself from his maudlin embraces, left him to wallow in solitude.
    • 1918 February (date written), Katherine Mansfield [pseudonym; Kathleen Mansfield Murry], “Je ne parle pas français”, in Bliss and Other Stories, London: Constable & Company, published 1920, →OCLC, page 78:
      Regret is an appalling waste of energy, and no one who intends to be a writer can afford to indulge in it. You can't get it into shape; you can't build on it; it's only good for wallowing in.
    • 1995, The Simpsons Season 7 Episode 1, Who Shot Mr. Burns?, written by Bill Oakley and Josh Weinstein:
      With Smithers out of the picture I was free to wallow in my own crapulence.
  4. To live or exist in filth or in a sickening manner.
    • 1692–1717, Robert South, Twelve Sermons Preached upon Several Occasions, 6th edition, volumes (please specify |volume=I to VI), London: [] J[ames] Bettenham, for Jonah Bowyer, [], published 1727, →OCLC:
      God sees a man wallowing in his native impurity.
    • 1895, The Review of Reviews, volume 11, page 215:
      The floors are at times inches deep with dirt and scraps of clothing. The whole place wallows with putrefaction. In some of the rooms it would seem that there had not been a breath of fresh air for five years.
Usage notes[edit]

In the sense of “to immerse oneself in, to occupy oneself with”, it is almost exclusively used for self-indulgent negative emotions, particularly self-pity. See synonyms for general or positive alternatives, such as revel.

Derived terms[edit]
The translations below need to be checked and inserted above into the appropriate translation tables. See instructions at Wiktionary:Entry layout § Translations.


wallow (plural wallows)

  1. An instance of wallowing.
  2. A pool of water or mud in which animals wallow, or the depression left by them in the ground.
    • 1901, George Bird Grinnell, Theodore Roosevelt, editors, American Big-Game Hunting[3]:
      However, we have no time to linger, and picking our way among the countless buffalo wallows which indent the level surface of the summit, the wagon, []
    • 2003, Suzann Ledbetter, A Lady Never Trifles with Thieves:
      Soon, the incessant wind would dry the stenchy wallow to corduroyed cement.
  3. A kind of rolling walk.
Derived terms[edit]

Etymology 2[edit]

From Middle English walwen, from Old English wealwian (to fade, wither), of uncertain origin. Perhaps an alteration of Old English fealwian (to grow pale, turn yellow, ripen, wither). Alternatively, perhaps related to Middle English welken (to fade, droop, wither), modern English welk.


wallow (third-person singular simple present wallows, present participle wallowing, simple past and past participle wallowed)

  1. (UK, dialectal, of plants) To fade, fade away, wither, droop; fail to flourish.

Etymology 3[edit]

From Middle English walwe, walh, from Old English wealg, from Proto-West Germanic *walg, from Proto-Germanic *walgaz. Cognate with Dutch walg (disgust), dialectal Norwegian valg (tasteless). Doublet of waugh.


wallow (comparative more wallow, superlative most wallow)

  1. (now dialectal) Tasteless, flat.
Derived terms[edit]