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

The Yeti just lives there, soaking up sun, waiting to charge phones and light up the four LED bulbs that bring some light to the woods. Popular Mechanics Editors, Popular Mechanics, "How To Live Off the Grid," 10 June 2019 Agents now also go regularly to certain upriver spots, where crossing is easier, and where the Central Americans gather and wait to be picked up. John Maccormack, ExpressNews.com, "Border immigration surge reaches the Big Bend," 10 June 2019 Long lines of Venezuelans stood at two international bridges near the city of Cúcuta waiting to have their documents checked by Colombian officials, with some carrying children on their shoulders. BostonGlobe.com, "Venezuela reopens border crossing with Colombia," 10 June 2019 Joe Burrow signed and waited his turn for three years before ultimately transferring to LSU. Stephen Means, cleveland.com, "Potential in-state quarterback connections for Ohio State football," 10 June 2019 The league is deferring to the child protective services proceeding involving Hill’s young son as of right now, and will wait for the green light from the Kansas Department of Children and Families to interview Hill. Albert Breer, SI.com, "After Firing GM Brian Gaine, Where Do the Texans Go From Here?," 10 June 2019 After the Legislature adjourned for the year, Gov. Doug Ducey had 10 days to take action on the bills waiting on his desk. Ryan Randazzo, azcentral, "Marijuana, landlords and horse racing: What Arizona Gov. Ducey decided on final bills," 10 June 2019 In fact, banks were already donating big sums to his campaign in waiting. Michael Kazin, The New Republic, "The Impossibility of Impeachment," 10 June 2019 But, because the timing of the show is very weather-dependent, there may be a lot of waiting around. Amy Schwabe, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Don't have a babysitter for your favorite summer festival? Here are some fun things your kids can do.," 10 June 2019

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

The board with the numbers being called was prominent and aided by a voice-over, and the board displayed wait times that were frequently updated (and surprisingly accurate). Sainted & Tainted Writers, Twin Cities, "Sainted and Tainted: This might be an unpopular thought right now, but here’s to you, Woodbury DMV!," 8 June 2019 Reviews of Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge on social media have been mostly positive, with a few parkgoers complaining about long wait times. Hugo Martin, latimes.com, "Disneyland declares Star Wars land opening a success, says crowding ‘nonexistent’," 5 June 2019 Sorry, Charlie, the wait time is still two or three days. Amy Mitchell, Country Living, "How to Ripen an Avocado Fast," 3 May 2019 Philadelphia International Airport briefly changed its status with wait times of 15 minutes reported on Friday morning, but later reverted back to 30 minute delays, per the FAA's website. Sam Blum, Popular Mechanics, "Major Airports Face Staffing Shortages and Delays Amid Government Shutdown," 25 Jan. 2019 Well, the wait appears to be over: Per Playbill, Back to the Future will finally debut at the Manchester Opera House in the U.K. next February, before presumably making its way to the Great White Way. Andrew Daniels, Popular Mechanics, "A Back to the Future Musical Is Finally Coming, So Here Are Some Song Ideas," 17 May 2019 As the wait for Prince Harry and Meghan Markle's royal baby continues, rumors have started to percolate suggesting that Meghan already gave birth to her child and the royal couple is keeping the baby a secret. Caroline Hallemann, Town & Country, "When Meghan Markle Is in Labor with the Royal Baby There Will Reportedly Be an Announcement From the Palace," 2 May 2019 As the wait continued earlier in the day, volunteers started handing out pizza in an effort to keep people in line. P.r. Lockhart, Vox, "Voting hours in parts of Georgia extended after technical errors create long lines," 7 Nov. 2018 Frustrated by the wait, hundreds of Haitian migrants in the Dominican town of Barahona marched to the local Haitian consulate earlier this week, denouncing corruption and indifference in the office over a backlog for passports. Jacqueline Charles, miamiherald, "These Haitian kids need surgery in another country. Getting a passport is the hard part," 22 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

13 Jun 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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