wait

verb
\ ˈwāt \

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

There was speculation that Philip might meet the rest of the royal family inside the service where Prince George, 5, and Princess Charlotte, 3, are waiting for their parents, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, and the rest of the royal family. Rachel Epstein, Marie Claire, "Is Prince Philip at Sandringham with the Rest of the Royal Family?," 25 Dec. 2018 Mindy Kaling and her daughter put on matching pajamas to wait for Santa. Halie Lesavage, Glamour, "Here's How Celebrities Celebrated Christmas 2018," 24 Dec. 2018 Khashoggi arrived at the consulate several hours later at 1:14 p.m., then disappeared while his fiancée waited outside for him. Suzan Fraser, Fox News, "Man linked to Saudi prince at consulate when writer vanished," 18 Oct. 2018 That breach had also happened in September, but Facebook waited about six weeks to mention it. Emily Stewart, Vox, "Facebook’s very bad year, explained," 21 Dec. 2018 In a tweet Thursday, a Hilton Honors representative apologized to a member who was still waiting to get points. Aisha Al-muslim, WSJ, "Hilton Honors Members Complain About Missing Points," 21 Dec. 2018 Nyle seemed to have a sense of humor about the situation, noting that the person waiting with the chair seemed to recognize the mistake. Brittney Mcnamara, Teen Vogue, "Nyle DiMarco Said an Airline Gave Him a Wheelchair After a Flight Seemingly Because He's Deaf," 20 Dec. 2018 Some experts advocate for diagnosing BPD in adolescents while others prefer to wait until adulthood. Carolyn L. Todd, SELF, "13 Facts Everyone Should Know About Borderline Personality Disorder," 5 Dec. 2018 Chu said the company is trying to manage demand so riders would never be forced to wait more than a few minutes. Andrew J. Hawkins, The Verge, "Riding in Waymo One, the Google spinoff’s first self-driving taxi service," 5 Dec. 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

Following a five-year hiatus, the Pistol Annies finally released a new record—and their searing lyrics and soaring harmonies were worth the wait. Taysha Murtaugh, Country Living, "Who Are the Pistol Annies? Everything You Need to Know About Miranda Lambert's Band," 13 Nov. 2018 Doubts have been raised over how long the boys could cope mentally and physically with a wait of up to six more months underground. NBC News, "Thailand soccer team rescue: Conditions now 'most suitable' but monsoon threatens," 7 July 2018 Pink is making good on her makeup dates — but fans still have a lengthy wait. Brian Mccollum, Detroit Free Press, "Pink sets new Detroit, Montreal dates after flu postponement," 2 May 2018 So to avoid getting swamped (and suffering negative coverage for long wait times), Waymo as noted is limiting initial sign ups to people who are already in Waymo's early rider program. Timothy B. Lee, Ars Technica, "Waymo One, the groundbreaking self-driving taxi service, explained," 5 Dec. 2018 The company aims to offer similar wait times in San Francisco and Los Angeles over the next year. Patrick Sisson, Curbed, "Can Uber offer improved service to riders in wheelchairs?," 20 Nov. 2018 Travelers should expect lengthy delays on Interstate 90 and Interstate 5, and long wait times at ferry docks and the border crossing between the United States and Canada, according to the Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT). Michelle Baruchman, The Seattle Times, "The best times to travel during the Thanksgiving holiday weekend to avoid the worst traffic congestion," 20 Nov. 2018 Shot in July on one of the hottest days of the year, Campbell and her mom had to keep the details under wraps for months, but, per Morris-Campbell, the final reveal was well worth the wait. Janelle Okwodu, Vogue, "Naomi Campbell and Matt Smith Toast Burberry’s Holiday Campaign in New York," 20 Nov. 2018 Table packages include all of the above plus access to the VIP table area, a dedicated wait staff, access to the viewing of the celebrity red carpet, and a private table with premium bottle service. Daniela Sternitzky-di Napoli, Houston Chronicle, "Here's what it costs to party with Kate Upton at the 2018 Maxim Hot 100 Experience," 27 June 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

10 Jan 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 \
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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