Benjamin Zimmer bgzimmer at BABEL.LING.UPENN.EDU
Sun Dec 2 14:23:35 UTC 2007

On Dec 2, 2007 9:06 AM, JAMES A. LANDAU <JJJRLandau at> wrote:
> My daughter, a senior at University of Chicago, reports that "wingman" means a person
> who is asked by X to set up a date with Y.
> The most famous wingman in American history (although the term had not yet been
> invented) was John Alden.

That's not quite the collegiate sense of "wingman" that I recall from
the late '80s / early '90s. This extended definition from
Urbandictionary seems more canonical:

A Wingman is a guy you bring along with you on singles
outings (like to bars) that helps you out with the women.
Typically in these ways :
• The Wingman will always be there to "occupy" least
attractive girl of the pair so that you may engage in the "hotty"
• Often, when an attractive girl is out with an ugly friend, she often
feels restricted to not leave that ugly friend alone, thus making the
hot girl, un-touchable.
• When the wingman technique is used, both girls are
approached by the men, and the Wingman automatically
engages in conversation with the ugly girl.
• Now that the hot friend sees that the ugly girl has finally found a
man, she is now free to start scouting.
• This is where you come in "unexpectidly" and "accidentaly", and
begin catching up on "old times" with the Wingman.
• The Wingman then offers the ugly girl to dance, (which
rarley happens to her) so she wont be able to resist.
[snip much more]

See also the Coors Light commercial from a few years ago, "Mighty Wingman":

--Ben Zimmer

The American Dialect Society -

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