shoot one's wad

shoot one's wad


  1. a small mass, lump, or ball of anything: a wad of paper; a wad of tobacco.
  2. a small mass of cotton, wool, or other fibrous or soft material, used for stuffing, padding, packing, etc.
  3. a roll of something, especially of bank notes.
  4. Informal. a comparatively large stock or quantity of something, especially money: He’s got a healthy wad salted away.
  5. a plug of cloth, tow, paper, or the like, used to hold the powder or shot, or both, in place in a gun or cartridge.
  6. British Dialect. a bundle, especially a small one, of hay, straw, etc.

verb (used with object), wad·ded, wad·ding.

  1. to form (material) into a wad.
  2. to roll tightly (often followed by up): He wadded up his cap and stuck it into his pocket.
  3. to hold in place by a wad: They rammed and wadded the shot into their muskets.
  4. to put a wad into; stuff with a wad.
  5. to fill out with or as if with wadding; stuff; pad: to wad a quilt; to wad a speech with useless information.

verb (used without object), wad·ded, wad·ding.

  1. to become formed into a wad: The damp tissues had wadded in his pocket.
  1. shoot one’s wad, Informal.
    1. to spend all one’s money: He shot his wad on a new car.
    2. to expend all one’s energies or resources at one time: She shot her wad writing her first novel and her second wasn’t as good.
    3. Slang: Vulgar.(of a man) to have an orgasm.


  1. a small mass or ball of fibrous or soft material, such as cotton wool, used esp for packing or stuffing
    1. a plug of paper, cloth, leather, etc, pressed against a charge to hold it in place in a muzzle-loading cannon
    2. a disc of paper, felt, pasteboard, etc, used to hold in place the powder and shot in a shotgun cartridge
  2. a roll or bundle of something, esp of banknotes
  3. US and Canadian slang a large quantity, esp of money
  4. British dialect a bundle of hay or straw
  5. British military slang a bunchar and a wad

verb wads, wadding or wadded

  1. to form (something) into a wad
  2. (tr) to roll into a wad or bundle
  3. (tr)
    1. to hold (a charge) in place with a wad
    2. to insert a wad into (a gun)
  4. (tr) to pack or stuff with wadding; pad


  1. a soft dark earthy amorphous material consisting of decomposed manganese minerals: occurs in damp marshy areas

1570s, from wad (n.). Related: Wadded; wadding.


early 15c., “soft material for padding or stuffing,” of uncertain origin, and the different meanings may represent more than one source. Among the possible connections are Medieval Latin wadda, Dutch watten, and Middle English wadmal (late 14c.) “woolen cloth,” which seems to be from Old Norse vaðmal “a woolen fabric of Scandinavia,” probably from vað “cloth” + mal “measure.”

The meaning “bundle of currency” is American English, 1778. To shoot (one’s) wad “do all one can do” is recorded from 1914. The immediate source of the expression probably is the sense of “disk of cloth used to hold powder and shot in place in a gun.” Wad in slang sense of “a load of semen” is attested from 1920s, and the expression now often is felt in this sense. As a suffix, -wad in 1980s joined -bag, -ball, -head in combinations meaning “disgusting or unpleasant person.”

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