v. wait·ed, wait·ing, waits
a. To remain or rest in expectation: waiting for the guests to arrive. See Synonyms at stay1.
b. To stay in one place until another catches up: waited at the corner for everyone else in the group.
2. To remain or be in readiness: Lunch is waiting at the counter.
3. To remain temporarily neglected, unattended to, or postponed: The trip will have to wait.
4. To work as a waiter or waitress.
1. To remain or stay in expectation of; await: wait one's turn.
2. Informal To delay (a meal or an event); postpone: They waited lunch for us.
3. To be a waiter or waitress at: wait tables.
1. The act of waiting or the time spent waiting.
2. Chiefly British
a. One of a group of musicians employed, usually by a city, to play in parades or public ceremonies.
b. One of a group of musicians or carolers who perform in the streets at Christmastime.
wait on (or upon)
1. To serve the needs of; be in attendance on.
2. To make a formal call on; visit.
3. To follow as a result; depend on.
4. To await: They're waiting on my decision.
To delay until the termination of: wait out a war; waited out the miniskirt craze.
1. To postpone going to bed in anticipation of something or someone.
2. Informal To stop or pause so that another can catch up: Let's wait up for the stragglers.
[Middle English waiten, from Old North French waitier, to watch, of Germanic origin; see weg- 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.