wait

verb
\ ˈwāt How to pronounce wait (audio) \

Definition of wait

 (Entry 1 of 2)

transitive verb

1 : to stay in place in expectation of : await waited the result of the advertisement— W. M. Thackeray wait your turn
2 : to delay serving (a meal)
3 : to serve as waiter for wait tables

intransitive verb

1a : to remain stationary in readiness or expectation wait for a train
b : to pause for another to catch up usually used with up
2a : to look forward expectantly just waiting to see his rival lose
b : to hold back expectantly waiting for a chance to strike
3 : to serve at meals usually used in such phrases as wait on tables or wait on table
4a : to be ready and available slippers waiting by the bed
b : to remain temporarily neglected or unrealized the chores can wait
5 : pause, stop used to preface an interjected question, correction, etc. "Wait, Mom. Wait. What did you say?" I said. "He left you what?"— Frederick BuschSo wait, what's so bad about wanting to eat right?— Annie Daly
wait on or less commonly wait upon
1a : to attend as a servant
b : to supply the wants of : serve
2 : to make a formal call on
3 : to wait for
wait up
: to delay going to bed : stay up

wait

noun

Definition of wait (Entry 2 of 2)

1a : a hidden or concealed position used chiefly in the expression lie in wait
b : a state or attitude of watchfulness and expectancy anchored in wait for early morning fishing— Fred Zimmer
2a : one of a band of public musicians in England employed to play for processions or public entertainments
b(1) : one of a group who serenade for gratuities especially at the Christmas season
(2) : a piece of music by such a group
3 : an act or period of waiting a long wait in line

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Can wait on mean 'to wait for'?: Usage Guide

Verb

American dialectologists have evidence showing wait on (sense 3) to be more a Southern than a Northern form in speech. Handbook writers universally denigrate wait on and prescribe wait for in writing. Our evidence from printed sources does not show a regional preference; it does show that the handbooks' advice is not based on current usage. settlement of the big problems still waited on Russia Time I couldn't make out … whether Harper was waiting on me for approval — E. B. White the staggering bill that waited on them at the white commissary downtown — Maya Angelou One reason for the continuing use of wait on may lie in its being able to suggest protracted or irritating waits better than wait for. for two days I've been waiting on weather — Charles A. Lindbergh the boredom of black Africans sitting there, waiting on the whims of a colonial bureaucracy — Vincent Canby doesn't care to sit around waiting on a House that's virtually paralyzed — Glenn A. Briere Wait on is less common than wait for, but if it seems natural, there is no reason to avoid it.

Examples of wait in a Sentence

Verb

I hate waiting in long lines. They waited at the train station together. You should have waited a little longer. He showed up right after you left. I don't have time to wait around. If he's not here in five minutes, I'm leaving. She waited behind after class to talk to the professor. I'm sorry to have kept you waiting. How may I help you? I waited and waited but he never showed up. Wait! Don't start the engine yet. We waited for the sun to set before starting the fire. I know she was happy when I lost my job. She was waiting to see me fail.

Noun

there was a long wait for the manager to come and help us
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Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

Dressing rooms are often scarce in thrift stores, so be prepared to wait in line for awhile or to slip goods on over your clothes. Woman's Day Staff, Woman's Day, "How to Find the Best Stuff at Thrift Stores," 21 Feb. 2019 Mercedes-Benz and Porsche are both waiting in the wings. Jonathan M. Gitlin, Ars Technica, "Formula E starts season 5 in Saudi Arabia with a faster electric race car," 14 Dec. 2018 When Sam emerged from his heartbreaking conversation with Daenerys, Bran was there, waiting for him in the courtyard. Erica Gonzales, Harper's BAZAAR, "Bran Stark Was So Creepy in the Game of Thrones Premiere and Now He's a Meme," 15 Apr. 2019 Steel-laden trucks waited in line along the narrow streets of the Financial District to pull up with when a flag signaled their turn. Jonathan Schifman, Popular Mechanics, "A Friendship Turned to Rivalry. A Feud That Changed the New York Skyline.," 27 Mar. 2019 First, she was whisked into the Tabernacle Atlanta, where the Jonas Brothers would be performing, past what looks like crowds of fans waiting to get in. Krystin Arneson, Glamour, "Priyanka Chopra Went to Her First Jonas Brothers Concert and Documented the Whole Thing," 31 Mar. 2019 Unlike past elevators, the AWEs use electromagnetic propulsion to move munitions from the magazine to waiting aircraft. Kyle Mizokami, Popular Mechanics, "The Navy’s Newest Aircraft Carrier Is Delayed, Yet Again," 28 Mar. 2019 Tesla customers generally place an order, then wait for a delivery time which could be days or weeks in the future. Megan Geuss, Ars Technica, "Musk says Tesla will cover tax credit difference on missed 2018 deliveries," 26 Dec. 2018 Somewhere in the dark waited a 2020 Porsche 911 Carrera S, in Guard Red, the eighth generation of the company’s humpbacked, ass-engined masterpiece. Dan Neil, WSJ, "2020 Porsche 911: One Last Hurrah Before Going Electric," 14 Mar. 2019

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

So excited about the new season, the wait has been too long. Jennifer Aldrich, Country Living, "'The Amazing Race' Cast Will Include Competitors From 'Big Brother' and 'Survivor'," 14 Apr. 2019 Vogueworld Behind the Scenes of Donald Glover and Rihanna’s Guava Island The wait is finally over—Donald Glover and Rihanna’s film Guava Island is officially here. Vogue, "Behind the Scenes of Donald Glover and Rihanna’s Guava Island," 13 Apr. 2019 The wait is just about over for the final season of Game of Thrones. Nancy Bilyeau, Town & Country, "The Real People Who Inspired Game of Thrones," 10 Apr. 2019 But there are finally some signs that the wait is finally over—and just in time, considering their new baby's probable due date at the end of this month. Katherine J. Igoe, Marie Claire, "Meghan Markle and Prince Harry Have Reportedly Moved into Frogmore Cottage," 4 Apr. 2019 Joanne Garone Behnke said it's been an agonizing wait to find out what happen to her aunt, Aggie Vicari. Fox News, "Missing Florida woman's body recovered amid rubble," 19 Oct. 2018 What should have been a five-minute wait for a car turned into 30, and my 9 a.m. appointment was rapidly approaching. Sarah Kinonen, Allure, "Why I Flew All the Way to Paris for a Tata Harper Facial," 13 Sep. 2018 Saturday was the busiest day, with short delays at the entrances, but twice on Saturday, Square Egg staff tweeted that there was no wait at the Third and Monroe streets entrance. Kellie Hwang, azcentral, "Phoenix Comic Fest 2018 takeaways: What went well (and what didn't)," 30 May 2018 Plus, there is a 180-day wait for the refund after sending in the paper documentation. Olivera Perkins, cleveland.com, "Do wage theft laws in Ohio harm or help workers?," 15 Apr. 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'wait.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of wait

Verb

14th century, in the meaning defined at transitive sense 1

Noun

13th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

History and Etymology for wait

Verb

Middle English, from Anglo-French waiter, guaiter to watch over, await, of Germanic origin; akin to Old High German wahta watch, Old English wæccan to watch — more at wake

Noun

Middle English waite watchman, observation, from Anglo-French, of Germanic origin; akin to Old High German wahta watch

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Statistics for wait

Last Updated

18 Apr 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for wait

The first known use of wait was in the 13th century

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More Definitions for wait

wait

verb

English Language Learners Definition of wait

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: to stay in a place until an expected event happens, until someone arrives, until it is your turn to do something, etc.
: to not do something until something else happens
: to remain in a state in which you expect or hope that something will happen soon

wait

noun

English Language Learners Definition of wait (Entry 2 of 2)

: a period of time when you must wait

wait

verb
\ ˈwāt How to pronounce wait (audio) \
waited; waiting

Kids Definition of wait

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : to stay in a place looking forward to something that is expected to happen Denmark's fishermen didn't wait for sunny days to take their boats out …— Lois Lowry, Number the Stars
2 : to stop moving or doing something Wait at the door. Wait a second—I have a better idea.
3 : to remain not done or dealt with The chore can wait. There's a package waiting for you.
4 : to serve food as a waiter or waitress

wait

noun

Kids Definition of wait (Entry 2 of 2)

1 : an act or period of waiting We had a long wait.
2 : a hidden place from which a surprise attack can be made
Hint: This sense of wait is usually used in the expression lie in wait.

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More from Merriam-Webster on wait

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with wait

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for wait

Spanish Central: Translation of wait

Nglish: Translation of wait for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of wait for Arabic Speakers

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about wait

Comments on wait

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