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

But luckily, Jenner isn't making us wait any longer to see what the debut collection includes. Marci Robin, Allure, "Kylie Skin’s First Products Have Been Revealed, and They’re Surprisingly Affordable," 12 May 2019 Autonomous and sailing without a human crew, Sea Hunter—or a ship like it—would be packed with food, water, ammunition and medical supplies and sent to assist waiting Marines. Kyle Mizokami, Popular Mechanics, "This Robotic Ship Could Become a Marine's Lifeline," 9 May 2019 Now, Thomas’s graduation cap and gown are hanging in a closet there, waiting to see if they’ll be used. Lucy Diavolo, Teen Vogue, "Arizona Students Marched for Classmate Thomas Torres-Maytorena, Who's Facing Deportation Court on Graduation Day," 7 May 2019 Chicago, for example, requires a Firearm Owners Identification card, a background check, a three-day waiting period, and documentation for all firearm sales. German Lopez, Vox, "I’ve covered gun violence for years. The solutions aren’t a big mystery.," 14 Feb. 2019 Once the model's hair was fully strengthened and prepped, Ghaisarzadeh gave her strands a break and waited a week before going in with the color. Rebecca Norris, Allure, ""Iced Mocha" Balayage Is the Bronde Hair Color for Summer," 24 Apr. 2019 Meanwhile, the rest of us will continue to wait with bated breath for the birth of his cousin, Baby Sussex, who's due to arrive any day now. Abby Gardner, Glamour, "Meghan Markle and Prince Harry Just Left Their First Instagram Comment—and It's a Cute One," 23 Apr. 2019 Riders can expect waits up to 20 minutes for trains during those times. Joseph De Avila, WSJ, "New Yorkers Brace for the Start of L Train Repairs," 21 Apr. 2019 No need to wait until #ThrowbackThursday to post it. Tamara Fuentes, Seventeen, "30 Best Latergram Instagram Captions After That Crazy Night Out," 18 Apr. 2019

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

The wait is finally over, and Meghan Markle has given birth to her first child with Prince Harry. Amy Mackelden, Harper's BAZAAR, "Prince Harry Just Revealed When We'll See the Royal Baby for the First Time," 6 May 2019 This event is first come, first served, and there will be a wait. Kaila White, azcentral, "Friday the 13th tattoo, piercing deals for April 2018: Where to go in Phoenix area," 12 Apr. 2018 The contrast in experience between the sides couldn't be greater as Liverpool return to the final after an 11-year wait with no player in their squad who has previously played in a Champions League final. Afp, chicagotribune.com, "Zidane: Ronaldo 'lives for games like this'," 25 May 2018 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

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

16 May 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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