From Middle English waiten, wayten, from Old Northern French waiter, waitier (compare French guetter from Old French gaitier, guaitier), from Old Frankish *wahtōn, *wahtjan (“to watch, guard”), derivative of *wahta (“guard, watch”), from Proto-Germanic *wahtwō (“guard, watch”), from Proto-Indo-European *weǵ- (“to be fresh, cheerful, awake”). Cognate with Old High German wahtēn (“to watch, guard”), Dutch wachten (“to wait, expect”), French guetter (“to watch out for”), North Frisian wachtjen (“to stand, stay put”). More at watch.
- (transitive, now rare) To delay movement or action until the arrival or occurrence of; to await. (Now generally superseded by “wait for”.)
- Awed with these words, in camps they still abide, / And wait with longing looks their promised guide.
- 1992, Hilary Mantel, A Place of Greater Safety, Harper Perennial 2007, page 30:
- The Court had assembled, to wait events, in the huge antechamber known as the Œil de Boeuf.
- (intransitive) To delay movement or action until some event or time; to remain neglected or in readiness.
- John Milton
- They also serve who only stand and wait.
- John Dryden
- Haste, my dear father; 'tis no time to wait.
- Wait here until your car arrives.
- John Milton
- (intransitive, US) To wait tables; to serve customers in a restaurant or other eating establishment.
- She used to wait down at the Dew Drop Inn.
- (obsolete) To attend on; to accompany; especially, to attend with ceremony or respect.
- He chose a thousand horse, the flower of all / His warlike troops, to wait the funeral.
- Remorse and heaviness of heart shall wait thee, / And everlasting anguish be thy portion.
- (obsolete) To attend as a consequence; to follow upon; to accompany.
- (obsolete) To defer or postpone (a meal).
- to wait dinner
- In sense 1, this is a catenative verb that takes the to infinitive. See Appendix:English catenative verbs
- (delay until event): hold one's breath
wait (plural waits)
- A delay.
- I had a very long wait at the airport security check.
- An ambush.
- They laid in wait for the patrol.
- an enemy in wait
- (obsolete) One who watches; a watchman.
- (in the plural, obsolete, Britain) Hautboys, or oboes, played by town musicians.
- (Can we find and add a quotation of Halliwell to this entry?)
- (in the plural, archaic, Britain) Musicians who sing or play at night or in the early morning, especially at Christmas time; serenaders; musical watchmen. [formerly waites, wayghtes.]