Definition of wait in English:

wait

Line breaks: wait
Pronunciation: /weɪt
 
/

verb

[no object]
1Stay where one is or delay action until a particular time or event: he did not wait for a reply we’re waiting for Allan to get back Vera did not wait on a Home Office ruling [with infinitive]: Ben stood on the street corner waiting to cross [with object]: I had to wait my turn to play
More example sentences
  • To get the longest term go for a card deal that waits until the money hits your new account.
  • They sat in the large leather armchairs to wait the arrival of the man on whom so much depended.
  • I peeked through the window behind my back and saw a young woman waiting in the car.
Synonyms
stand by, hold back, be patient, bide one's time, hang fire, mark time, kill time, waste time, cool one's heels, kick one's heels, twiddle one's thumbs;
pause, stop, cease, halt, discontinue, rest
informal hold on, hang around, sit tight, hold one's horses, sweat it out
British informal hang about
anticipate, expect, be ready, be in readiness;
long for, hope for, count the days until
1.1 (wait for or on) Stay where one is or delay action until (someone) arrives or is ready: he sits on the corner waiting for Mary she was waiting on her boyfriend
1.2Be left until a later time before being dealt with: we shall need a statement later, but that will have to wait
More example sentences
  • Signing Dillon to a long-term deal is a priority, but it will wait until the off season.
  • Postpone those decisions that can wait until you feel more able to deal with them.
  • Subtitled ‘another side of Cirque du Soleil,’ this one'll have to wait till the kids are in bed.
Synonyms
be postponed, be delayed, be put off, be held back, be deferred
informal be put on the back burner, be put on ice
1.3 [with object] informal Defer (a meal) until a person’s arrival: I told my parents not to wait supper
More example sentences
  • He'd kept everything warm in the oven for her and Ashton agreed to wait dinner on her as he wasn't hungry.
Synonyms
delay, postpone, put off, hold off, hold back, defer
2Remain in readiness for a purpose: he found the train waiting on the platform
More example sentences
  • At the road end our bus was waiting to take us back to Te Anau and the end of a memorable experience.
  • It isn't too far from here, and he'll probably have some food waiting when we get there.
  • There was a taxi waiting where the aircraft came to a halt so that they could avoid the muddy dirt of the airfield.
Synonyms
stay, remain, rest, linger, loiter, dally, stop, stay put
archaic bide, tarry
2.1(Of a vehicle) be parked for a short time at the side of a road.
More example sentences
  • The firm must stop vehicles waiting at the junction of Hill Top Lane and Chorley Old Road by putting yellow lines down.
  • The landscaping scheme will link in with a new footpath and cycleway at the back of the Fox and a new bus waiting area on Holgate Road.
  • Motorists can wait for free until arriving passengers call to say they are ready to be picked up.
3 (cannot wait) Used to indicate that one is eagerly impatient to do something or for something to happen: I can’t wait to tell Nick what happened
More example sentences
  • My head was full of ideas for my new design all day and I couldn't wait to get home and try them out.
  • It was my first present from him and I felt so gorgeous in it that I couldn't wait to show it off.
  • Some people here couldn't wait to get rid of him, but look at what he has achieved.
4Act as a waiter or waitress, serving food and drink: a local man was employed to wait on them at table [with object]: we had to wait tables in the mess hall
More example sentences
  • Seneca ridiculed a wealthy man because he kept a handsome slave who was dressed like a woman when he waited at table.
  • He was one of the footmen who waited at table.
  • If the truth be known, waiting tables was my only income.

noun

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1 [in singular] A period of waiting: we had a long wait
More example sentences
  • Show up early, because no matter what time you go, there will be an interminable wait.
  • Unfortunately, a train has just left the station, and it will be quite a wait for the next one.
  • Desperate motorists say they face an hour wait when trying to leave the car park at the end of the day.
Synonyms
delay, hold-up, period of waiting, interval, interlude, intermission, pause, break, stay, cessation, suspension, detention, check, stoppage, halt, interruption, lull, respite, recess, postponement, discontinuation, moratorium, hiatus, gap, lapse, rest, entr'acte
2 (waits) archaic Street singers of Christmas carols.
More example sentences
  • Originally they were mummers, performing traditional plays, and they then became known as waits, who would tour the town every evening before Christmas.
2.1 historical Official bands of musicians maintained by a city or town.
More example sentences
  • He wrote music for the London theatres in the early part of the 17th century, and in 1622 joined the waits of the City of London.

Origin

Middle English: from Old Northern French waitier, of Germanic origin; related to wake1. Early senses included 'lie in wait (for'), 'observe carefully', and 'be watchful'.

Phrases

in wait

Watching for an enemy or potential victim and preparing to attack them: he decided to lie in wait for the thief
More example sentences
  • They lay in wait for him on the York ring road, then rammed his car and attacked him with a monkey wrench.
  • Lying in wait at so many of these turning points in Henman's career has been Canas.
  • Gang members had followed them to the hospital and were lying in wait.

wait and see

Wait to find out what will happen before doing something: we will have to wait and see what happens
More example sentences
  • Well, we have to wait and see in this case if the defense is going to put in for bail.
  • As to whether we have a capacity to go any further in future Budgets, you'll have to wait and see.
  • However, Sligo must wait and see what the new team for the constituency will deliver.

wait for it

British informal Do not act before the proper moment: patrol—wait for it—halt!
More example sentences
  • Thankfully, that gap has now been closed by the arrival this year of the Festival of, wait for it, Politics.
  • Scotland's best golfer is no fan of links golf and played very little of it as a youngster brought up in, wait for it, Leeds.
  • Oh, and turn up your speakers for - wait for it - the building site sound effects.

you wait

Used to convey a threat or promise: you wait until your Dad gets in!
More example sentences
  • Oh that reminds me I also have to brush up on my French, because I'm gonna be fluent by the end of summer, just you wait.

Phrasal verbs

wait on (or upon)

1Act as an attendant to: a maid was appointed to wait on her
More example sentences
  • Where once convicts were forced to hop around the exercise yard in the blazing sun, they now sunbathe in deckchairs, waited on by the guards.
  • I had to help with the preparations, taking time out from the demanding task of waiting on His Grace to assist with everything from cooking to candle making.
  • Palmerin is taken to Constantinople and appointed to wait on his cousin Polinarda, with whom he falls in love; while Floriano is taken to London and appointed to wait on Flerida.
Synonyms
serve, attend to, tend, cater for/to, act as a waitress/waiter to;
1.1 archaic Pay a respectful visit to: a deputation had waited upon Lords Salisbury, Redesdale, and Roxburghe
More example sentences
  • The latter is very unpopular, & a deputation of ministers waited upon C, asking that he should be removed as he was not playing the game.
  • It states that any deputation waiting on a Minister or member after a demonstration is limited to six.
2Await the convenience of: to see the full series, we will have to wait on the BBC
More example sentences
  • Cancer patients recovering in hospital will no longer have to wait on the postman for their get well soon cards.
  • The rest of the group sat and waited on her patiently.
  • The problem is that we're waiting on the justice system.
2.1Australian /NZ & Northern English informal Refrain from doing something until something else happens: wait on, I’ve an important message for you
More example sentences
  • She had decided to wait on telling Fredi until the perfect moment, so she had to pretend as if nothing were wrong.
  • We'll wait on the beets until the next crop comes in with fresh tops.
  • Also, sex is something that one should wait on until you are ready.

wait up

1Not go to bed until someone arrives or something happens: I’ll be back late. Don’t wait up for me
More example sentences
  • Manager Don Givens waited up until 4am for the player to return to HQ, at which point he gave up and went to bed.
  • Thousands of Swindon youngsters will be eagerly waiting up for Santa to drop down the chimney tonight.
  • If you're waiting up all night for a husband who comes home after the kids are in bed, you might feel you're missing out.
Synonyms
stay awake, stay up, keep vigil
2North American Go more slowly or stop until someone catches up: the kids bound out of sight, and I shout ‘Wait up!’
More example sentences
  • I sassed when he caught up with me as I didn't wait up for him like he asked me too.
  • We rode towards Baker Lake, but before reaching the lake stopped to wait up for Michael and Cathy.
  • Katrina stared open-mouthed and then after a moment of hesitation, she followed Ashley, shouting for her to wait up.

Definition of wait in: