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The Collaborative International Dictionary

Whig \Whig\, a. Of or pertaining to the Whigs.


Whig \Whig\, n. [See Whey.] Acidulated whey, sometimes mixed with buttermilk and sweet herbs, used as a cooling beverage. [Obs. or Prov. Eng.]


Whig \Whig\, n. [Said to be from whiggam, a term used in Scotland in driving horses, whiggamore one who drives horses (a term applied to some western Scotchmen), contracted to whig. In 1648, a party of these people marched to Edinburgh to oppose the king and the duke of Hamilton (the Whiggamore raid), and hence the name of Whig was given to the party opposed to the court. Cf. Scot. whig to go quickly.]

  1. (Eng. Politics) One of a political party which grew up in England in the seventeenth century, in the reigns of Charles I. and II., when great contests existed respecting the royal prerogatives and the rights of the people. Those who supported the king in his high claims were called Tories, and the advocates of popular rights, of parliamentary power over the crown, and of toleration to Dissenters, were, after 1679, called Whigs. The terms Liberal and Radical have now generally superseded Whig in English politics. See the note under Tory.

  2. (Amer. Hist.)

    1. A friend and supporter of the American Revolution; -- opposed to Tory, and Royalist.

    2. One of the political party in the United States from about 1829 to 1856, opposed in politics to the Democratic party.

Douglas Harper's Etymology Dictionary

British political party, 1657, in part perhaps a disparaging use of whigg "a country bumpkin" (1640s); but mainly a shortened form of Whiggamore (1649) "one of the adherents of the Presbyterian cause in western Scotland who marched on Edinburgh in 1648 to oppose Charles I." Perhaps originally "a horse drover," from dialectal verb whig "to urge forward" + mare. In 1689 the name was first used in reference to members of the British political party that opposed the Tories. American Revolution sense of "colonist who opposes Crown policies" is from 1768. Later it was applied to opponents of Andrew Jackson (as early as 1825), and taken as the name of a political party (1834) that merged into the Republican Party in 1854-56.\n\n[I]n the spring of 1834 Jackson's opponents adopted the name Whig, traditional term for critics of executive usurpations. James Watson Webb, editor of the New York Courier and Enquirer, encouraged use of the name. [Henry] Clay gave it national currency in a speech on April 14, 1834, likening "the whigs of the present day" to those who had resisted George III, and by summer it was official.

[Daniel Walker Howe, "What Hath God Wrought," 2007, p.390]

\nWhig historian is recorded from 1924. Whig history is "the tendency in many historians ... to emphasise certain principles of progress in the past and to produce a story which is the ratification if not the glorification of the present." [Herbert Butterfield, "The Whig Interpretation of History," 1931]

Etymology 1 n. 1 (context UK dialect obsolete English) acidulate whey, sometimes mixed with buttermilk and sweet herbs, used as a cooling beverage. 2 buttermilk Etymology 2

vb. 1 (context transitive English) urge forward; drive briskly. 2 (context intransitive English) jog along; move or work briskly.


Whig or Whigs may refer to:

Usage examples of "whig".

Pakington, in adopting their policy, and thwarting a whig plenipotentiary.

Whig party have abandoned their principles by adopting him as their candidate.

Whigs, was constantly using its principle and its prestige as a cloak for the aggrandizement of special interests.

Whig, and it is ten to one if the talk turn not upon the turning of alcaics, or the contest between blank verse or rhyme.

As for the Nobility, they had been as preoccupied with a violent and ghastly spectacle of a different character: down in Westminster, the Whigs had suddenly begun to ask pointed questions as to what had become of certain Asiento revenues.

He had nae ill-will to the Whig bodies, and liked little to see the blude rin, though, being obliged to follow Sir Robert in hunting and hosting, watching and warding, he saw muckle mischief, and maybe did some, that he couldna avoid.

Hatless and cloakless, Sir John had fled to his Whig friends in Nottinghamshire to claim reward and sanctuary.

Whigs, who were the men in fact that wrought the most deray among the populace.

Cabinets organized by the only two Presidents elected by the Whig party.

No orator had espoused with more seeming heartiness various liberal opinions, which he abandoned when he became a pet of the Whigs.

The country-party consisted of the tories, reinforced by discontented whigs, who had either been disappointed in their own ambitious views, or felt for the distresses of their country, occasioned by a weak and worthless administration.

Pamphlets and pasquinades were published on both sides of the dispute, which became the general topic of conversation in all assemblies, and people of all ranks espoused one or other party with as much warmth and animosity as had ever inflamed the whigs and tories, even at the most rancorous period of their opposition.

In the Cheraw district, on the Pedee, above the line where Marion commanded, the Whig and Tory warfare, of which we know but little beyond this fact, was one of utter extermination.

The Whig leaders, who seemed to have had all their wisdom and energy taken out of them when the Free Soilers left them, were much alarmed by the strength of the discontent with the existing order of things manifested by the coalition victory in the election of the Constitutional Convention.

At this defection of so many Free Soilers the Whig leaders took heart and made a vigorous and successful resistance.