Definition of Whig in English:

Share this entry


Pronunciation: /(h)wiɡ/


1A member of the British reforming and constitutional party that sought the supremacy of Parliament and was eventually succeeded in the 19th century by the Liberal Party.
Example sentences
  • The aristocratic Whigs had passed the Reform Bill in 1832 to hitch the middle classes to the constitution, but increasingly they faced criticism from radicals for standing in the way of democracy.
  • Like Burke, Scott was suspicious of the French Revolution and was much alarmed by Napoleonic Imperialism and Whigs ' Reform Bill.
  • In 1783, with Tory Prime Minister Shelbourne's government in ruin, George III was appalled at the idea of accepting a Whig as prime minister.
2An American colonist who supported the American Revolution.
Example sentences
  • A political party in favor of American independence, Whigs are usually anti-British and are willing to fight if they have to.
2.1A member of an American political party in the 19th century, succeeded by the Republicans.
Example sentences
  • So long as the populace preserved republican virtues, Whigs saw hope in an emerging industrial nation.
  • It was the American Whigs, typified by Lincoln, who freed the slaves - in the only way in which that could be done.
  • At the same time, however, those alienated by Federalists and Whigs proved somewhat reluctant to cast their lot with political parties dominated by southern planters.
3A 17th-century Scottish Presbyterian.
Example sentences
  • Educated at Edinburgh and Glasgow Universities, he was a Whig who became a Scottish judge and an MP.
  • What was crucial for the post-revolutionary Whigs that comprised the Scottish Enlightenment was not Locke but rather their own institutional status.
  • A high-church Whig, he was appointed bishop of Lincoln in 1716, and in 1723 translated to the see of London.
4 [as modifier] Denoting a historian who interprets history as the continuing and inevitable victory of progress over reaction.
Example sentences
  • You align yourself with Whig historians, happy to see the victory of the Hanoverian regime as a necessary triumph of progress and pragmatism.
  • Colin Kidd has claimed that this, and the ahistorical ‘modernization’ of the Whig historians, deprived the Scots of a weapon available to other European nationalisms.
  • This is nothing more than an updated version of what was called the Whig interpretation of history.



Pronunciation: /ˈ(h)wiɡ(ə)rē/
Example sentences
  • Many dinners were hosted and attended by well-known left-wingers, and the stage was set for the revival of Whiggery on the British political landscape.
  • The second paragraph defines the Torygraph conception of Whiggery, ‘the traditional Whig principle of upholding our constitutional settlement.’
  • Coningsby celebrates the new Tories of the ‘Young England’ set, whose opposition to Whiggery and whose concern at the treatment of the poor and the injustice of the franchise is strongly reflected in the narrative.


Pronunciation: /ˈ(h)wiɡiSH/
Example sentences
  • The final chapter, ‘Impossible History and the Politics of Hope,’ identifies ‘impossible’ as not imaginable within a Whiggish history of progressive development.
  • Hall interpreted the political origins of the western states in the most strident of Whiggish sentiments and the relinquishment of Indian land rights in the self-justifying rhetoric of dispossession.
  • Indeed, in what seemed to be a throwback to nineteenth century Whiggish history, the viewing public were being sold a figure as being the greatest Briton.


Pronunciation: /ˈ(h)wiɡˌizəm/
Example sentences
  • In 1820 Scott, with other prominent Tories, secretly financed the new Tory journal the Beacon (latter reissued as the Sentinel), whose aim was to assail radical Whiggism.
  • He denied crossing the political spectrum, declaring that he was never a democrat or republican, but ‘I was a Whig, I admit, till I was ashamed of Whiggism.’
  • For the price of Hanoverian identification with Whiggism, albeit a somewhat watery Whiggism, was the permanent alienation of the die-hard ‘country’ Tory families.


Probably a shortening of Scots whiggamore, the nickname of 17th-century Scottish rebels, from whig 'to drive' + mare1.

Words that rhyme with Whig

big, brig, dig, fig, gig, grig, jig, lig, pig, prig, rig, snig, sprig, swig, tig, trig, twig, wig

For editors and proofreaders

Syllabification: Whig

Share this entry

What do you find interesting about this word or phrase?

Comments that don't adhere to our Community Guidelines may be moderated or removed.