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”), 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 (Now generally superseded by “wait for”.)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.]