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See also: Wait and wäit



 Wait (disambiguation) on Wikipedia

Alternative formsEdit


From Middle English waiten, wayten, from Old Northern French waiter, waitier (compare French guetter from Old French gaitier, guaitier), from Old Frankish *wahtōn, *wahtijan (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), German Low German wachten (to wait), Dutch wachten (to wait, expect), French guetter (to watch out for), Saterland Frisian wachtje (to wait), West Frisian wachtsje (to wait), North Frisian wachtjen (to stand, stay put). More at watch.



wait (third-person singular simple present waits, present participle waiting, simple past and past participle waited)

  1. (transitive, now rare) To delay movement or action until the arrival or occurrence of; to await. (Now generally superseded by “wait for”.)
    • Dryden
      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.
  2. (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.
    • 1898, Winston Churchill, chapter 4, in The Celebrity:
      No matter how early I came down, I would find him on the veranda, smoking cigarettes, or otherwise his man would be there with a message to say that his master would shortly join me if I would kindly wait.
    Wait here until your car arrives.
  3. (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.
  4. (obsolete) To attend on; to accompany; especially, to attend with ceremony or respect.
    • Dryden
      He chose a thousand horse, the flower of all / His warlike troops, to wait the funeral.
    • Rowe
      Remorse and heaviness of heart shall wait thee, / And everlasting anguish be thy portion.
  5. (obsolete) To attend as a consequence; to follow upon; to accompany.
  6. (obsolete) To defer or postpone (a meal).
    to wait dinner
  7. (intransitive) To remain celibate while one's lover is unavailable.
    • 1957,Dagny Taggart and Francisco d'Anconia, Ayn Rand's Atlas Shrugged
      She did not question him. Before leaving, she asked only, "When will I see you again?" He answered, "I don't know. Don't wait for me, Dagny. Next time we meet, you will not want to see me."
    • 1974, The Bee Gees, Night Fever
      I will wait / Even if it takes forever / I will wait / Even if it takes a lifetime

Usage notesEdit


Derived termsEdit



wait (plural waits)

  1. A delay.
    I had a very long wait at the airport security check.
  2. An ambush.
    They laid in wait for the patrol.
    • Milton
      an enemy in wait
  3. (obsolete) One who watches; a watchman.
  4. (in the plural, obsolete, Britain) Hautboys, or oboes, played by town musicians.
    (Can we find and add a quotation of Halliwell to this entry?)
  5. (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.]
    • (Can we date this quote?) Beaumont and Fletcher
      Hark! are the waits abroad?
    • (Can we date this quote?) Washington Irving
      The sound of the waits, rude as may be their minstrelsy, breaks upon the mild watches of a winter night with the effect of perfect harmony.


Related termsEdit


Most common English words before 1923 in Project Gutenberg: sitting · Christ · begin · #789: wait · laughed · opportunity · lines




From Old Norse hvítr, from Proto-Germanic *hwītaz. Cognate with Swedish vit.



  1. white




  1. Romanization of 𐍅𐌰𐌹𐍄

Tok PisinEdit


From English white.



  1. white