Share this entry

waist Line breaks: waist

Definition of waist in English:


1The part of the human body below the ribs and above the hips, often narrower than the areas above and below: he put an arm around her waist the last time you had a waist was around 1978
More example sentences
  • I plaited her hair so that it fell in one long rope of yellow to her narrow waist.
  • A set-in waistband hints at a waist, while the flared hemline softens a boxy shape.
  • Swimmers with this body type are more muscular, thick-chested with broad shoulders and a smaller waist.
1.1The circumference of a person’s waist: her waist has reduced from 35 to 28 inches
More example sentences
  • By this means we are told that waists can be reduced, flat chests inflated, hips broadened and lungs strengthened, to say nothing of reducing weight.
  • Ancient statues have been found of men and women with 10-inch (!) waists!
  • How lovely to think that even those with 24-inch waists will be forced to cover them up from now on.
1.2The part of a garment around or covering the waist: trousers with an elasticated waist
More example sentences
  • My jeans have an elastic waist and pockets on the side and larger ones below my knees.
  • Pin your creation on your shoulder, at the waist, on a hat or handbag, even on a cuff at the wrist.
  • Drawstring pants with elastic in the waist allow for a closer fit with added flexibility.
1.3The point at which a garment is shaped so as to narrow between the ribcage and the hips: a jacket with a high waist
More example sentences
  • She was wearing a pretty blue shirt with ruffled sleeves and a high waist with lace.
  • It was designed along Grecian lines with a high empire waist, and silver lace trim.
  • Are customers trying to tell designers we've had enough of the low rise waist and want to cover it up?
2A narrow part in the middle of something, such as a violin or hourglass.
Example sentences
  • Wellington, a long almond biscuit, rounded at each end with a narrower waist.
  • The flats currently used appear to be about 0.04 inch too narrow at the waist and 0.04 inch too long.
2.1The middle part of a ship, between the forecastle and the quarterdeck.
Example sentences
  • She is 60 ft long and sleeps 10-four in the bow, four in the stern and two in the waist of the ship.
  • He stood nonchalantly next to the quarter-deck rail looking into the waist.
  • Kennedy entered the waist from below decks reaching his hand down the companion to assist her up the steep stairs!


Late Middle English: apparently representing an Old English word from the Germanic root of wax2.

  • wax from Old English:

    An old English verb weaxan ‘grow, increase’ is now restricted to only a few contexts. We use it to mean ‘become’ in expressions such as ‘he waxed lyrical’, and we use it for ‘to grow’ when we talk of the moon waxing and waning. It is possible that the wax that bees make comes from the same root, in the sense of what grows in the hive, but no one is certain. Waist (Late Middle English) seems to come from the same root, perhaps with reference to childbirth. Wane (Old English) is from Old English wanian ‘lessen’.



Pronunciation: /ˈweɪstɪd/
[in combination]: high-waisted


Example sentences
  • The strip involved primary characters who were waistless but had arms and legs, neckless but had mouths and eyes; only one had a nose.
  • She stands up decisively and pulls her t-shirt down at the sides, accentuating the waistless bulge of her torso that protrudes for some distance from her body.
  • The dress was waistless and hung mid-calf with various layers of lace.

Words that rhyme with waist

barefaced, baste, boldfaced, chaste, haste, lambaste, paste, po-faced, red-faced, self-faced, shamefaced, smooth-faced, strait-laced, taste, unplaced, untraced, waste

Definition of waist in:

Share this entry


What do you find interesting about this word or phrase?

Comments that don't adhere to our Community Guidelines may be moderated or removed.

Get more from Oxford Dictionaries

Subscribe to remove ads and access premium resources

Word of the day whippersnapper
Pronunciation: ˈ(h)wipərˌsnapər
a young, inexperienced person considered presumptuous or overconfident...