see also: Wait
  • IPA: /weɪt/
  • (GA) IPA: /weɪt/, [weɪ̯ʔt]

wait (waits, present participle waiting; 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 (Now generally superseded by “wait for”.)
    • 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.
    • 1673, John Milton, “Sonnet XVI. When I conſider how my light is ſpent”, in Poems, &c. upon Several Occaſions., London: Printed for Tho. Dring […] , OCLC 1050806759 ↗, page 59 ↗:
      They also serve who only stand and wait.
    • Haste, my dear father; 'tis no time to 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. (transitive, 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.
  5. (obsolete) To attend as a consequence; to follow upon; to accompany.
  6. (obsolete, colloquial) To defer or postpone (especially 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
Synonyms Translations Translations
  • French: servir, faire le service
  • German: bedienen
  • Italian: servire a tavola
  • Portuguese: servir
  • Russian: обслу́живать
  • Spanish: servir, ser camarero (Spain)

wait (plural waits)

  1. A delay.
    I had a very long wait at the airport security check.
  2. An ambush.
    They lay in wait for the patrol.
    • 1667, John Milton, “Book 4”, in Paradise Lost. A Poem Written in Ten Books, London: Printed [by Samuel Simmons], and are to be sold by Peter Parker […] [a]nd by Robert Boulter […] [a]nd Matthias Walker, […], OCLC 228722708 ↗; republished as Paradise Lost in Ten Books: The Text Exactly Reproduced from the First Edition of 1667: […], London: Basil Montagu Pickering […], 1873, OCLC 230729554 ↗:
      an enemy in wait
  3. (obsolete) One who watches; a watchman.
  4. (in the plural, obsolete, UK) Hautboys, or oboes, played by town musicians.
  5. (in the plural, UK) Musicians who sing or play at night or in the early morning, especially at Christmas time; serenaders; musical watchmen. [formerly waites, wayghtes.]
    • 1609–1612, Francis Beaumont; John Fletcher, “The Captaine”, in Comedies and Tragedies […], London: Printed for Humphrey Robinson, […], and for Humphrey Moseley […], published 1647, OCLC 3083972 ↗, Act 2, scene 2:
      Hark! are the waits abroad?
    • 1819-1820, Washington Irving, The Sketchbook of Geoffrey Crayon
      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.
Translations Related terms
Proper noun
  1. Surname

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