WAG rage

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WAG is a curious word in British English, confined mainly to journalism, and at first mostly spelled in capital letters (I actually discussed it here once before, here). It's an acronym, not an abbreviation. (Abbreviations are the other kind of initialism: they are pronounced by saying the names of the successive letters, as with IBM; an acronym is an initialism with a sequence of letters that can be pronounced in the usual way as a word, e.g. AIDS.) The etymology of WAG comes from the initial letters of the phrase Wives And Girlfriends. The word denotes the class of people who serve in the sometimes arduous but newsworthy role of wives and girlfriends of British sports stars, especially soccer players. There is always a cluster of glamorous women hanging around top professional soccer team members, and some players choose brides from among these admirers. Hence the headlinese word "WAGs". The puzzling thing is that WAG has developed a singular. It is increasingly well established. See for example, today's story Dundee football star Kyle Benedictus facing jail over 'wag rage' attack, where the word is not just in the singular but lower-cased. (It's an inspiring story of professional soccer culture: a young player going to his ex-girlfriend's home, violently assaulting two men he finds there, and then accusing her of having made him do it.)

Calling a soccer camp-follower a WAG (or wag) does not mean she is a wife and a girlfriend. I grant you that there may have occasionally been cases of a woman serving as wife to one soccer star and girlfriend to another — I do not plan to pry into other people's private lives — but the point is that a woman does not need to have served in this dual capacity to be a WAG. What it really means to call a woman a WAG is that she is a Wife Or Girlfriend of a sportsman in the public eye, so it occurs to me that WOG would be a better . . . Oh. I just realized something. Never mind. Forget that I ever raised this topic.

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