Word of the Day: wait

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Word of the Day
February 15, 2016
wait (verb, noun)
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There's a 20-minute wait until the next train.
To wait means 'to remain in a place or state without doing anything until something expected happens.' It also means that something will be left for later, or postponed. In addition, wait means 'to look forward to something,' especially when used in the negative (eg, "I can't wait"). To wait on somebody means 'to serve food and drinks to someone.' As a noun, a wait is the period when you wait for something.


Example sentences
  • Tom had to wait until morning to take the train back to town.
  • Your makeup can wait until we finish with your hair.
  • I'm afraid that your raise will have to wait until next year; the company can't afford it right now.
  • Sarah has a new job in a restaurant and she had to wait on her former work colleagues yesterday. Awkward!
  • There will be a short wait for the next bus.
Multi-word forms
wait up (phrasal verb, informal): stay up late waiting for someone. Example: "Don't wait up, Mom! I'll be late tonight!" Wait up can also mean 'wait for someone else to join you when they're walking or running.' Example: "Wait up! I'm tired and can't walk that fast."
waitstaff: the waiters and waitresses who work in a restaurant. Example: "Our restaurant can't open until we hire the waitstaff."
Did you know?
In the sense of serving, when talking about people, wait is always used with the preposition "on." Example: "The lords and ladies sat at the table eating and drinking, while the staff waited on them." However, wait can be used without a preposition to describe somebody's job as a waiter or waitress, by saying wait tables. Example: "Neil waited tables to make extra money while he was in college." This use is mainly US. In the UK, people would be more likely to say work as a waiter/waitress.
Other forms
waiter (noun, masculine), waitress (noun, feminine)
Wait, as a verb, dates back to the second half of the 12th century and comes from the early Middle English word waiten. As a noun, it derives from the Anglo-French word waitier and is similar to the Old High German word wahtēn, meaning 'to watch.'
In other languages
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