waste

1 of 3

noun

1
a
: 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
3
a
: loss through breaking down of bodily tissue
b
: gradual loss or decrease by use, wear, or decay
4
a
: 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)
(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

2 of 3

verb

wasted; wasting

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
4
a
: 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
2
a
: to become diminished in bulk or substance
b
: to become consumed
3
: to spend money or consume property extravagantly or improvidently

waste

3 of 3

adjective

1
a(1)
: being wild and uninhabited : desolate
(2)
: arid, empty
b
: not cultivated : not productive
2
: being in a ruined or devastated condition
3
[waste entry 1]
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
[waste entry 1] : serving to conduct or hold refuse material
a waste barrel
specifically : carrying off superfluous water
a waste drain
5
Phrases
waste one's breath
: to accomplish nothing by speaking
Choose the Right Synonym for waste

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

Example Sentences

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 See More
Recent Examples on the Web
Noun
In open session, the council heard a presentation from EDCO, the city’s new provider of solid waste collection services. Laura Groch Jan. 15, San Diego Union-Tribune, 15 Jan. 2023 All solid waste services will return to normal Monday, Jan. 23. Staff Reports, The Indianapolis Star, 14 Jan. 2023 For hazardous chemicals like oven cleaners, contact your local waste disposal center to find the best way to dispose of them. Jessica Bennett, Better Homes & Gardens, 13 Jan. 2023 Investigators reportedly found trash bags with blood, a hatchet and a hacksaw in a Swampscott waste facility, which is about an hour away from the Walshes' home, sources told WBZ-TV. Chris Eberhart, Fox News, 13 Jan. 2023 More than 3 million square feet of dilapidated buildings were demolished and over 140,000 tons of waste material was removed around the property. Marlowe Alter, Detroit Free Press, 13 Jan. 2023 And Aspen Skiing Company is converting waste methane from a coal plant into electricity. Sarah Kuta, Smithsonian Magazine, 12 Jan. 2023 Bretzmann said the results of the pilot program will guide the city on future waste reduction efforts. Dallas News, 10 Jan. 2023 The nations are also committing to reduce methane emissions by at least 15% by 2030, specifically from the waste sector. Josh Wingrove, Fortune, 10 Jan. 2023
Verb
Once forgotten about, however, unused cards can go to waste. Megan Cerullo, CBS News, 3 Jan. 2023 Going even further, Lenovo didn't let the extra-long deck that the display creates—16.3 inches long—go to waste. Scharon Harding, Ars Technica, 29 Dec. 2022 In addition to nonperishable items for pickup, the main campus also offers about 200 hot meals per week made by culinary program students using leftover food that would have otherwise gone to waste. Kelly Meyerhofer, Journal Sentinel, 1 Dec. 2022 Many Ukrainian agribusiness operations have been laid to waste. Kenneth Rapoza, Forbes, 11 Oct. 2022 Hunters don't want to waste any more money on suing lessor Dion Dawson, a local news station reports. Katie Hill, Outdoor Life, 1 Jan. 2023 This week is about pulling them all together for a second chance at greatness the Buckeyes do not want to waste. Nathan Baird, cleveland, 26 Dec. 2022 There's truly no more time to waste, though, so add a few of these beauty, fashion, home, and tech gifts to your Amazon shopping carts and avert the crisis of an empty tree skirt come Christmas morning. Staff Author, Peoplemag, 21 Dec. 2022 Others said there’s no time to waste in seeking new sources as the Colorado River’s decline takes water out of the CAP canal and threatens to empty it in future years. Brandon Loomis, The Arizona Republic, 21 Dec. 2022
Adjective
This anti-waste brand upcycles materials, and was founded by Kisa Sky Shiga. Nadja Sayej, Forbes, 20 Dec. 2022 Fanning out like urban guerrillas through Paris’ darkened streets well after midnight, the anti-waste activists shinny up walls and drain pipes, reaching for switches to turn off the lights. Click. The Christian Science Monitor, 3 Aug. 2022 But for sheer novelty in this post-waste world, few companies may top Extract Energy. Washington Post, 4 Nov. 2021 For many of them, working at a high-growth company with a feel-good, anti-waste mission had felt like the pinnacle of their working lives. Lauren Weber, WSJ, 17 May 2021 The new anti-waste law aims to encourage buyers to repair their devices rather than replace them with new products. Chris Smith, BGR, 26 Feb. 2021 To boost that percentage, France passed an anti-waste bill last year mandating that electronics manufacturers make a repairability index visible on their products. Maddie Stone, Wired, 20 Feb. 2021 One study shows that restaurants save $7 for every $1 invested in anti-waste methods. Emily Matchar, Smithsonian Magazine, 16 Mar. 2020 Reviving discarded clothing and giving it new life through painting and alterations, artist MI Legget goes against the grain and champions anti-waste values in the industry. Erin Parker, Glamour, 11 June 2020 See More

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.

Word History

Etymology

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

First Known Use

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)

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

Dictionary Entries Near waste

Cite this Entry

“Waste.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/waste. Accessed 2 Feb. 2023.

Kids Definition

waste

1 of 3 noun
1
a
: a region that has few people or is empty of most signs of life : desert
b
: uncultivated land
2
a
: the act or an instance of wasting
b
: the state of being wasted
3
a
: material left over, rejected, or thrown away
b
: an unwanted product obtained in the course of a manufacturing or chemical process
c
: material (as carbon dioxide in the lungs or urine in the kidneys) produced in and of no further use to the living body

waste

2 of 3 verb
wasted; wasting
1
: to destroy completely
2
: to wear away or grow smaller gradually
3
: to spend carelessly or uselessly : squander
4
: to lose or cause to lose weight, strength, or energy
illness caused her to waste away

waste

3 of 3 adjective
1
: being wild and without people or crops : desolate, barren
2
: being in a ruined condition
3
: thrown away as worthless after being used
4
: of no further use to a person, animal, or plant
means by which the body gives off waste materials

Medical Definition

waste

1 of 3 noun
1
: loss through breaking down of bodily tissue
2
wastes plural : bodily waste materials : excrement

waste

2 of 3 verb
wasted; wasting

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

3 of 3 adjective
: excreted from or stored in inert form in a living body as a by-product of vital activity
waste products

Legal Definition

waste

noun
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)

More from Merriam-Webster on waste

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