English Edit

Etymology Edit

Late 14th century, "attendant, watchman," agent noun from the verb wait +‎ -er. Sense of "servant who waits at tables" is from late 15th century, originally in reference to household servants; in reference to inns, eating houses, etc., it is attested from 1660s. Feminine form waitress first recorded 1834.[1]

The London Stock Exchange sense harks back to the early days of trading in coffee-shops.

Pronunciation Edit

Noun Edit

a waiter.

waiter (plural waiters, feminine waitress)

  1. A male or female attendant who serves customers at their tables in a restaurant, café or similar.
    Waiter! There's a fly in my soup.
    • 1918, W. B. Maxwell, chapter 2, in The Mirror and the Lamp[1]:
      She was a fat, round little woman, richly apparelled in velvet and lace, […]; and the way she laughed, cackling like a hen, the way she talked to the waiters and the maid, […]—all these unexpected phenomena impelled one to hysterical mirth, and made one class her with such immortally ludicrous types as Ally Sloper, the Widow Twankey, or Miss Moucher.
    • 1963, Margery Allingham, chapter 5, in The China Governess[2]:
      A waiter brought his aperitif, which was a small scotch and soda, and as he sipped it gratefully he sighed.
        ‘Civilized,’ he said to Mr. Campion. ‘Humanizing.’ [] ‘Cigars and summer days and women in big hats with swansdown face-powder, that's what it reminds me of.’
  2. Someone who waits for somebody or something; a person who is waiting.
    • 2013, Siciliani Luigi, Borowitz Michael, Moran Valerie, OECD Health Policy Studies: Waiting Time Policies in the Health Sector:
      However, the NTPF also contained implicit negative incentives for the public sector by offering alternative private sector treatment for the longest waiters at no extra cost to patients or no penalty to public providers.
  3. (historical) A person working as an attendant at the London Stock Exchange.
  4. (obsolete) A vessel or tray on which something is carried, as dishes, etc.; a salver. (See etymology of dumbwaiter.)
    • 1839, Charles Dickens, Nicholas Nickleby:
      Cautioning her, in these terms, not to trip over a heterogeneous litter of pastry-cook’s trays, lamps, waiters full of glasses, and piles of rout seats which were strewn about the hall, plainly bespeaking a late party on the previous night, the man led the way to the second story []
  5. (obsolete) A custom house officer; a tide waiter.
  6. (obsolete) A watchman.

Derived terms Edit

Related terms Edit

Descendants Edit

Translations Edit

Verb Edit

waiter (third-person singular simple present waiters, present participle waitering, simple past and past participle waitered)

  1. (stative) To work as a waiter.
    • 1992, James Kenneth Melson, “Iowa Boy in the Windy City”, in The Golden Boy, The Haworth Press, →ISBN, page 46:
      I had definitely had my fill of factory jobs, but had never worked in an office, nor bussed, nor waitered.
    • 1993, Eric Gabriel Lehman, Quaspeck: A Novel, San Francisco, Calif.: Mercury House, →ISBN, page 102:
      He dropped out and waitered at the Spain but was fired for throwing water in a customer’s face.
    • 2008, Jim Haskins, Kathleen Benson, “John Jasper”, in African American Religious Leaders (Black Stars), John Wiley & Sons, Inc., page 43:
      John [Jasper] started out as a cart boy, helping the ox-cart driver manage the oxen; but he was so smart that he was soon transferred to the house, where he waitered and worked in the garden.

Coordinate terms Edit

See also Edit

References Edit

Old French Edit

Verb Edit


  1. (Old Northern French, Anglo-Norman) Alternative form of gaitier

Conjugation Edit

This verb conjugates as a first-group verb ending in -er. The forms that would normally end in *-ts, *-tt are modified to z, t. Old French conjugation varies significantly by date and by region. The following conjugation should be treated as a guide.

References Edit

  • Godefroy, Frédéric, Dictionnaire de l’ancienne langue française et de tous ses dialectes du IXe au XVe siècle (1881) (waiter)