Dictionary > English Dictionary > Definition, synonym and antonym of wait
Meaning of wait by Wiktionary Dictionary


    Alternative forms


    From Middle English waiten, wayten, from Old Northern French waiter, waitier, from Old Low 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 .


    • IPA: /weɪt/
    • Rhymes: -eɪt
    • Homophone: weight


    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 ( Now generally superseded by "wait for". )
    2. ( intransitive ) To delay movement or action until some event or time; to remain neglected or in readiness .
      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 .

    Usage notes



    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 .
    3. ( obsolete ) One who watches; a watchman .
    4. plural Hautboys, or oboes, played by town musicians .
    5. plural Musicians who sing or play at night or in the early morning, especially at Christmas time; serenaders; musical watchmen. [formerly waites, wayghtes.]

    Related terms



    • WTAI

Explanation of wait by Wordnet Dictionary


    1. look forward to the probable occurrence of

    2. he is waiting to be drafted
    3. serve as a waiter or waitress in a restaurant

    4. I'm waiting on tables at Maxim's
    5. stay in one place and anticipate or expect something

    6. I had to wait on line for an hour to get the tickets
    7. wait before acting

    1. the act of waiting ( remaining inactive in one place while expecting something )

    2. the wait was an ordeal for him
    3. time during which some action is awaited

    Definition of wait by GCIDE Dictionary


    1. Wait v. i. [imp. & p. p. Waited; p. pr. & vb. n. Waiting.] [OE. waiten, OF. waitier, gaitier, to watch, attend, F. guetter to watch, to wait for, fr. OHG. wahta a guard, watch, G. wacht, from OHG. wahhēn to watch, be awake. √134. See Wake, v. i.]

      1. To watch; to observe; to take notice. [Obs.]

      “But [unless] ye wait well and be privy,

      I wot right well, I am but dead,” quoth she. Chaucer.

      2. To stay or rest in expectation; to stop or remain stationary till the arrival of some person or event; to rest in patience; to stay; not to depart.

      All the days of my appointed time will I wait, till my change come. Job xiv. 14.

      They also serve who only stand and wait. Milton.

      Haste, my dear father; 't is no time to wait. Dryden.

      To wait on or To wait upon. To attend, as a servant; to perform services for; as, “to wait on a gentleman; to wait on the table”. “Authority and reason on her wait.” Milton. “I must wait on myself, must I?” Shak. To attend; to go to see; to visit on business or for ceremony. To follow, as a consequence; to await. “That ruin that waits on such a supine temper.” Dr. H. More. To look watchfully at; to follow with the eye; to watch. [R.] “It is a point of cunning to wait upon him with whom you speak with your eye.” Bacon. To attend to; to perform. “Aaron and his sons . . . shall wait on their priest's office.” Num. iii. 10. ( Falconry ) To fly above its master, waiting till game is sprung; -- said of a hawk. Encyc. Brit.

    2. Wait v. t.
      1. To stay for; to rest or remain stationary in expectation of; to await; as, “to wait orders”.

      Awed with these words, in camps they still abide,

      And wait with longing looks their promised guide. Dryden.

      2. To attend as a consequence; to follow upon; to accompany; to await. [Obs.]

      3. To attend on; to accompany; especially, to attend with ceremony or respect. [Obs.]

      He chose a thousand horse, the flower of all

      His warlike troops, to wait the funeral. Dryden.

      Remorse and heaviness of heart shall wait thee,

      And everlasting anguish be thy portion. Rowe.

      4. To cause to wait; to defer; to postpone; -- said of a meal; as, “to wait dinner”. [Colloq.]

    3. Wait, n. [OF. waite, guaite, gaite, F. guet watch, watching, guard, from OHG. wahta. See Wait, v. i.]

      1. The act of waiting; a delay; a halt.

      There is a wait of three hours at the border Mexican town of El Paso. S. B. Griffin.

      2. Ambush. “An enemy in wait.” Milton.

      3. One who watches; a watchman. [Obs.]

      4. pl. Hautboys, or oboes, played by town musicians; not used in the singular. [Obs.] Halliwell.

      5. pl. Musicians who sing or play at night or in the early morning, especially at Christmas time; serenaders; musical watchmen. [Written formerly wayghtes.]

      Hark! are the waits abroad? Beau. & Fl.

      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. W. Irving.

      To lay wait, to prepare an ambuscade. -- To lie in wait. See under 4th Lie.