a. The part of the human trunk between the bottom of the rib cage and the pelvis.
b. The narrow part of the abdomen of an insect.
a. The part of a garment that encircles the waist of the body.
b. The upper part of a garment, extending from the shoulders to the waistline, especially the bodice of a dress.
c. Archaic A blouse.
3. The middle section or part of an object, especially when narrower than the rest.
4. Nautical The middle part of the upper deck of a ship between the forecastle and the quarterdeck.
[Middle English wast, perhaps from Old English *wæst, growth, size; see aug- in the Appendix of Indo-European roots.]
The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2020 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
Indo-European & Semitic Roots Appendices
Thousands of entries in the dictionary include etymologies that trace their origins back to reconstructed proto-languages. You can obtain more information about these forms in our online appendices:
The Indo-European appendix covers nearly half of the Indo-European roots that have left their mark on English words. A more complete treatment of Indo-European roots and the English words derived from them is available in our Dictionary of Indo-European Roots.