Is there a past tense of the verb "to wing," meaning to make up on the fly?

Inspired by a blog post of Wil Wheaton, quoted partially below.

"Is it from a recipe, or are you winging it?"

"I've made so many different recipes from so many different places, I just looked through the pantry and refrigerator and wung it."

We looked at each other. "Wung it?" I said. "I think I mean I am winging it. What's the past-tense of winging it? Wang it? Winged it?"

"I don't know, but it's not 'wung it,'" she said. I couldn't argue with her.

  • 2
    "Wang" it :) ... priceless. Reminded me of Numberwang immediately. May 13 '11 at 11:19

"I winged it" is correct.

The phrase comes from "theatrical slang sense of an actor learning his lines in the wings before going onstage, or else not learning them at all and being fed by a prompter in the wings" http://on.oceg.org/hRqPUt

  • 3
    Not much doubt on that one at the present time. But winged is under pressure from many other words (clung, flung, rung, stung, etc.), so I expect wung has occured repeatedly in the past - facetiously and or through genuine ignorance. It may even become the standard form eventually. Mar 28 '11 at 17:38
  • @Fumble: It also has the advantage of being familiar to the ear (at least mine) from the bird hunting sense of the phrase, to shoot in the wing. Mar 28 '11 at 18:26
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    @FumbleFingers: There are other examples of "-inged", including dinged, pinged, kinged.
    – MrHen
    Mar 28 '11 at 18:50

"wung it" was relatively common colloquial usage when I was growing up in NW England. "winged it" in this context sounds wrong, even if technically correct.

"winged it" meaning "hit in the wing" (when talking about birds or aeroplanes) was generally not changed to "wung it".

  • I have also heard "winged it" to refer to hitting something in or with a wing. But "wung it" is a pretty major exception.
    – MrHen
    Apr 6 '11 at 19:04

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