waste

noun
\ ˈwāst \

Definition of waste 

(Entry 1 of 3)

1a : a sparsely settled or barren region : desert

b : uncultivated land

c : a broad and empty expanse (as of water)

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

3a : loss through breaking down of bodily tissue

b : gradual loss or decrease by use, wear, or decay

4a : damaged, defective, or superfluous material produced by a manufacturing process: such 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: such 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

waste

verb
wasted; wasting

Definition of waste (Entry 2 of 3)

transitive verb

1 : to lay waste especially : to damage or destroy gradually and progressively reclaiming land wasted by strip-mining

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

3 : to wear away or diminish gradually : consume

4a : to spend or use carelessly : squander waste valuable resources

b : to allow to be used inefficiently or become dissipated a writer wasting her talent

5 : kill also : to injure severely

intransitive verb

1 : to lose weight, strength, or vitality often used with away was wasting away from illness

2a : to become diminished in bulk or substance

b : to become consumed

3 : to spend money or consume property extravagantly or improvidently

waste one's breath

: to accomplish nothing by speaking

waste

adjective

Definition of waste (Entry 3 of 3)

1a(1) : being wild and uninhabited : desolate

(2) : arid, empty

b : not cultivated : not productive

2 : being in a ruined or devastated condition

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 by-product of vital activity waste products

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

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Choose the Right Synonym for waste

Verb

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

Examples of waste in a Sentence

Noun

The current system causes a lot of waste. We need to find ways to reduce unnecessary waste. These old computers are still useful. It seems like such a waste to throw them away. Any further investment would be a waste of valuable resources. The city oversees waste disposal contracts.

Verb

Don't waste water during the summer drought. He always wasted his money on useless gadgets. Turn off the lights so we don't waste electricity. I think he's just wasting my time. We can't afford to waste so much food. We can't afford to waste this opportunity.

Adjective

waste acreage that was not fit for anything
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Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

Having said that, the Justice Department’s decision to appeal its lost case against the merger feels like a waste of government time and money. Alan Murray, Fortune, "Trump Diplomacy, Wilbur Ross, China Surplus: CEO Daily for July 13, 2018," 13 July 2018 In this era, plenty of people echo Arthur’s assertion, that free hours become a waste of time. Livia Gershon, Longreads, "Clocking Out," 11 July 2018 Some people have commented on the video calling it a waste of tax dollars. Asia Fields, The Seattle Times, "Lip-syncing cops in Virginia challenge Seattle police in viral video," 10 July 2018 None of it was a bigger waste of $10.99 than an order of fried Twinkies advertised as caramel, strawberry and chocolate. Mike Sutter, San Antonio Express-News, "Review: Get the South out of your mouth at Hoppin’ John," 5 July 2018 And is diverting billions of dollars to interplanetary travel the most important project in human history, or an incomprehensible waste of money at a time when there are so many terrestrial crises on this side of the ozone layer? Derek Thompson, The Atlantic, "Is Colonizing Mars the Most Important Project in Human History?," 29 June 2018 This is all very bizarre and an embarrassing waste of time. Rachel Epstein, Marie Claire, "David Beckham Showed His Support for the Queen at the Young Leaders Awards," 26 June 2018 In a conspicuous waste of scarce resources, Senegal is sending 300 of them to Russia. The Economist, "What makes a country good at football?," 9 June 2018 Trump has vented back that the meetings are unlikely to produce anything worthwhile, and that the trek to rural Quebec is a waste of time. Michelle Kosinski, CNN, "Trump unenthusiastically heads for contentious G7," 7 June 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

The electricity had gone out earlier that day, dropping the grimy corridors and sleeping rooms into darkness, and Bo wasn’t going to waste his chance. Andrew Liptak, The Verge, "A transgender girl rises up against alien invaders in Rich Larson’s novel Annex," 8 July 2018 There isn’t any time to waste, and that is the philosophy that drove the Sixers and all of their decisions during the draft. Sarah Todd, Philly.com, "Sixers' draft deals were made to set up chase for a star free agent," 22 June 2018 Muir is confident that Idaho potato products won't go to waste. Michael Katz, idahostatesman, "What do Mexico's tariffs mean for Idaho dairy and cheese? Maybe not too much.," 8 June 2018 That was the first treatment for Duchenne muscular dystrophy, a deadly muscle-wasting disease. Jonathan Saltzman, BostonGlobe.com, "Startup seeks answers to insidious form of epilepsy," 16 May 2018 Her bare-bones campaign chest ruled out wasting money on a new batch. Jeffrey Mervis, Science | AAAS, "Postdoc hopes Pennsylvania voters will help her re-engineer how to run for Congress," 7 May 2018 Brett Kavanaugh, Trump’s choice to succeed outgoing Justice Anthony Kennedy, also wasted no time in kissing the ring. Cristian Farias, Daily Intelligencer, "In Kavanaugh, Trump Found Another Judge Who Will Kiss the Ring," 10 July 2018 Is there a ceiling to Barkov line’s production and are ultra-talented players wasted playing with him instead of deepening a lineup? Matthew Defranks, Sun-Sentinel.com, "Does it matter who Panthers center Aleksander Barkov's linemates are?," 6 July 2018 The Forth Valley Royal Hospital, run by Serco, was the first in Britain to use automated guided vehicles to move laundry and waste around in the basement, saving about 40 menial jobs. The Economist, "Britain’s outsourcing model, copied around the world, is in trouble," 28 June 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective

Fenced dog enclosure features fire hydrants, waste bag stations, picnic tables, trash cans and play features, 4700 Old Pearsall Road; sanantonio.gov. Ingrid Wilgen, San Antonio Express-News, "Dog parks offer off-leash time and a place to play," 11 June 2018 That means waste heat, vented from cooling towers, losing 30 to 40 percent of the energy created by combustion. David Roberts, Vox, "That natural gas power plant with no carbon emissions or air pollution? It works.," 1 June 2018 Luxuries such as a boiler, tanks for both fresh and waste water, a grill (stored in the van’s cargo hold), and portable camping chairs are part of the deal, too. Alexander Stoklosa, Car and Driver, "California XXL: A Gigantic Camper Van Brought to You by Volkswagen," 13 Sep. 2017

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'waste.' 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 waste

Noun

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

Verb

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

Adjective

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a(1)

History and Etymology for waste

Noun

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

Verb

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

Adjective

Middle English waste, wast, from Anglo-French wast

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Learn More about waste

Dictionary Entries near waste

wast

wastable

wastage

waste

waste away

waste bank

wastebasket

Statistics for waste

Last Updated

16 Sep 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for waste

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

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More Definitions for waste

waste

noun

English Language Learners Definition of waste

 (Entry 1 of 3)

: 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

waste

verb

English Language Learners Definition of waste (Entry 2 of 3)

: 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)

waste

adjective

English Language Learners Definition of waste (Entry 3 of 3)

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

waste

noun
\ ˈwāst \

Kids Definition of waste

 (Entry 1 of 3)

1 : the action of spending or using carelessly or uselessly : the state of being spent or used carelessly or uselessly a waste of time

2 : material left over or thrown away

3 : material (as carbon dioxide in the lungs or urine in the kidneys) produced in and of no further use to the living body

4 : a large area of barren land : wasteland

waste

verb
wasted; wasting

Kids Definition of waste (Entry 2 of 3)

1 : to spend or use carelessly or uselessly

2 : to lose or cause to lose weight, strength, or energy His muscles were wasting away from lack of use.

3 : to bring to ruin

waste

adjective

Kids Definition of waste (Entry 3 of 3)

1 : being wild and without people or crops : barren waste areas

2 : of no further use Some waste materials can be recycled.

waste

noun
\ ˈwāst \

Medical Definition of waste 

(Entry 1 of 3)

1 : loss through breaking down of bodily tissue

2 wastes plural : bodily waste materials : excrement

waste

verb
wasted; wasting

Medical Definition of waste (Entry 2 of 3)

transitive verb

: to cause to shrink in physical bulk or strength : emaciate

intransitive verb

: to lose weight, strength, or vitality often used with away

waste

adjective

Medical Definition of waste (Entry 3 of 3)

: excreted from or stored in inert form in a living body as a by-product of vital activity waste products

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waste

noun

Legal Definition of waste 

1 : destruction of or damage to property that is caused by the act or omission of one (as a lessee, mortgagor, or life tenant) having a lesser estate and is usually to the injury of another (as an heir, mortgagee, or remainderman) with an interest in the same property an action for waste

ameliorating waste \ə-ˈmēl-yə-ˌrā-tiŋ- \

: waste that leads to improvement of property (as by clearing the way for rebuilding something)

called also ameliorative waste

permissive waste

: waste caused by the failure of a tenant to take ordinary or proper care of the property

voluntary waste

: waste caused by the intentional commission of a destructive act by a tenant

2 : a reduction of the value of assets (as in a trust) caused by a failure to exercise proper care or sound judgment in managing them especially : a transfer of corporate assets (as through excessive executive compensation or a merger) for no legitimate business purpose or for less than what a person of ordinary sound business judgment would consider to be adequate consideration the essence of a claim of waste of corporate assets is the diversion of corporate assets for improper or unnecessary purposes Michelson v. Duncan, 407 A.2d 211 (1979)

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Comments on waste

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