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noun \ˈwāst\

Simple Definition of waste

  • : loss of something valuable that occurs because too much of it is being used or because it is being used in a way that is not necessary or effective

  • : an action or use that results in the unnecessary loss of something valuable

  • : a situation in which something valuable is not being used or is being used in a way that is not appropriate or effective

Full Definition of waste

  1. 1 a :  a sparsely settled or barren region :  desert b :  uncultivated land c :  a broad and empty expanse (as of water)

  2. 2 :  the act or an instance of wasting :  the state of being wasted

  3. 3 a :  loss through breaking down of bodily tissue b :  gradual loss or decrease by use, wear, or decay

  4. 4 a :  damaged, defective, or superfluous material produced by a manufacturing process: as (1) :  material rejected during a textile manufacturing process and used usually for wiping away dirt and oil <cotton waste> (2) :  scrap (3) :  an unwanted by-product of a manufacturing process, chemical laboratory, or nuclear reactor <toxic waste> <hazardous waste> <nuclear waste> b :  refuse from places of human or animal habitation: as (1) :  garbage, rubbish (2) :  excrement —often used in plural (3) :  sewage c :  material derived by mechanical and chemical weathering of the land and moved down sloping surfaces or carried by streams to the sea

Examples of waste

  1. The current system causes a lot of waste.

  2. We need to find ways to reduce unnecessary waste.

  3. These old computers are still useful. It seems like such a waste to throw them away.

  4. Any further investment would be a waste of valuable resources.

  5. The city oversees waste disposal contracts.

Origin of waste

Middle English waste, wast; in sense 1, from Anglo-French wast, from wast, gast, guast, adjective, desolate, waste, from Latin vastus; in other senses, from Middle English wasten to waste — more at vast

First Known Use: 13th century

Rhymes with waste




Simple Definition of waste

  • : to use (something valuable) in a way that is not necessary or effective : to use more of (something) than is necessary

  • : to use (something or someone) in a way that does not produce a valuable result or effect : to fail to use (something or someone) in an appropriate or effective way

  • : to kill or murder (someone)

Full Definition of waste


  1. transitive verb
  2. 1 :  to lay waste; especially :  to damage or destroy gradually and progressively <reclaiming land wasted by strip-mining>

  3. 2 :  to cause to shrink in physical bulk or strength :  emaciate, enfeeble <a body wasted by disease>

  4. 3 :  to wear away or diminish gradually :  consume

  5. 4 a :  to spend or use carelessly :  squander <waste valuable resources> b :  to allow to be used inefficiently or become dissipated <a writer wasting her talent>

  6. 5 :  kill; also :  to injure severely

  7. intransitive verb
  8. 1 :  to lose weight, strength, or vitality —often used with away <was wasting away from illness>

  9. 2 a :  to become diminished in bulk or substance b :  to become consumed

  10. 3 :  to spend money or consume property extravagantly or improvidently

waste one's breath
  1. :  to accomplish nothing by speaking

Examples of waste

  1. Don't waste water during the summer drought.

  2. He always wasted his money on useless gadgets.

  3. Turn off the lights so we don't waste electricity.

  4. I think he's just wasting my time.

  5. We can't afford to waste so much food.

  6. We can't afford to waste this opportunity.

Origin of waste

Middle English, from Anglo-French waster, gaster, from Latin vastare, from vastus desolate, waste

First Known Use: 13th century

Synonym Discussion of waste

ravage, devastate, waste, sack, pillage, despoil mean to lay waste by plundering or destroying. ravage implies violent often cumulative depredation and destruction <a hurricane ravaged the coast>. devastate implies the complete ruin and desolation of a wide area <an earthquake devastated the city>. waste may imply producing the same result by a slow process rather than sudden and violent action <years of drought had wasted the area>. sack implies carrying off all valuable possessions from a place <barbarians sacked ancient Rome>. pillage implies ruthless plundering at will but without the completeness suggested by sack <settlements pillaged by Vikings>. despoil applies to looting or robbing without suggesting accompanying destruction <the Nazis despoiled the art museums>.




Simple Definition of waste

  • : of, relating to, or being material that is left over or unwanted after something has been made, done, used, etc.

Full Definition of waste

  1. 1 a (1) :  being wild and uninhabited :  desolate (2) :  arid, empty b :  not cultivated :  not productive

  2. 2 :  being in a ruined or devastated condition

  3. 3 [1waste] a :  discarded as worthless, defective, or of no use :  refuse <waste material> b :  excreted from or stored in inert form in a living body as a byproduct of vital activity <waste products>

  4. 4 [1waste] :  serving to conduct or hold refuse material <a waste barrel>; specifically :  carrying off superfluous water <a waste drain>

  5. 5 :  wasted 4

Examples of waste

  1. <waste acreage that was not fit for anything>

Origin of waste

Middle English waste, wast, from Anglo-French wast

First Known Use: 14th century

Seen and Heard

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February 10, 2016

to put in good humor

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