Meaning Behind the Word: Wigwag

Wigwag refers to a signaling system or device that uses a back-and-forth movement to convey messages, warnings, or instructions.


The term wigwag originates from the motion resembling the back-and-forth movement of a pendulum or flag, commonly used for communication purposes.


In various contexts, the term wigwag is applied:

  • Railroads: Wigwag signals were once used at railroad crossings to alert drivers of approaching trains.
  • Military: Wigwag flags are employed for visual signaling between units or during aircraft operations.
  • Aviation: Aircraft may use wigwag lights to convey specific messages or warnings to ground personnel.


Wigwag systems play a vital role in communication, safety, and coordination, ensuring the effective transmission of information in various settings.