General English


  • noun
    (written as WASP)
    a ‘white Anglo-Saxon Protestant’, a member of the traditionally dominant ethnic group in the US establishment. This was probably the first of many acronyms, first denoting ethnic subgroups (such as JAP), and later social subcultures (yuppie, etc.). The term WASP originated in the 1960s.
  • acronym forJAP
    (written as WASP)
  • acronym foryuppie
    (written as WASP)

Origin & History of “wasp”

Etymologically, the wasp may be the ‘weaver’. The word comes ultimately from Indo-European *wobhes- or *wops-, which was probably derived from the base *webh-, *wobh- ‘weave’ (source of English weave, web, etc); the allusion is presumably to the papery nest which many species construct. west Germanic took this over as *wabis- or *waps-, and the process of metathesis (reversal of sounds) produced English wasp and German wespe. From the same Indo-European ancestor come Latin vespa (source of French guêpe, Italian vespa, and Spanish avispa) and Russian osa.