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See also: wig-wag



An ambulance in England, UK, with a wigwag (noun sense 2.1.2) installed. This causes its front headlamps to flash alternately.
A wigwag signal (noun sense 2.1.3) at a level crossing in Mnichovice, Czech Republic. When a train is passing, the two upper red lamps flash alternately to warn vehicular traffic to stop. Once the train has passed, the lower green lamp lights up to signal that vehicles can drive across the tracks.
A wigwag (noun sense 2.3) inside the cabin of a truck, which indicates when the pressure in the airbrake system of the truck is too low for the brakes to be reliably deployed
A round, black-and-white railway wigwag signal (noun sense 2.4) at Ashland, Oregon, USA. In addition to its swinging motion, this wigwag also has a flashing light and a bell to indicate that a train is approaching the grade crossing.

wig (to wag, waggle) + wag (to swing from side to side). The noun is derived from the verb.



wigwag (plural wigwags)

  1. An act of wigwagging.
  2. Any of a number of mechanical or electrical devices which cause a component to oscillate between two states.
    1. A device that causes one or more lights to flash in a preset pattern.
      1. (film, television) A red light near the door of a sound stage that flashes to indicate that cameras are rolling inside the stage and that all people and vehicles outside should remain quiet; a red-eye.
      2. (road transport) A device used to cause the headlamps of a motor vehicle, especially an emergency vehicle such as an ambulance or police car, to flash as a warning.
      3. (road transport) A device with multiple (often two), alternately flashing lights which is installed at a railway level crossing (or grade crossing), a movable bridge, etc., to warn vehicular traffic to stop.
    2. (horology) An instrument that creates a wigwagging motion for polishing.
    3. (road transport) A warning device inside the cabin of a truck that causes a mechanical arm to drop into view when the pressure in the airbrake system of the truck becomes too low for the brakes to be reliably deployed.
    4. (US, rail transport, dated) A grade crossing signal with a swinging motion used to indicate an approaching train.


wigwag (third-person singular simple present wigwags, present participle wigwagging, simple past and past participle wigwagged)

  1. To move gently in one direction and then another; to wig or wiggle, to wag or waggle.
  2. To oscillate between two states.
  3. (US, military, historical) To send a signal by waving a flag to and fro.


Derived terms[edit]


wigwag (not comparable)

  1. With a wigwagging or to-and-fro motion.

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