acronym for White Anglo-Saxon Protestant, by 1955.
Old English wæps, wæsp "wasp," altered (probably by influence of Latin vespa) from Proto-Germanic *wabis- (source also of Old Saxon waspa, Middle Dutch wespe, Dutch wesp, Old High German wafsa, German Wespe, Danish hveps), from PIE *wopsa-/*wospa- "wasp" (source also of Latin vespa, Lithuanian vapsa, Old Church Slavonic vosa "wasp," Old Irish foich "drone"), perhaps from root *(h)uebh- "weave" (see weave (v.)). If that is the correct derivation, the insect would be so called for the shape of its nest. Of persons with wasp-like tendencies, from c. 1500. Wasp-waist in reference to women's figures is recorded from 1870 (wasp-waisted is from 1775).
updated on June 29, 2019