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90s Slang You Should Know


[weyt] /weɪt/
verb (used without object)
to remain inactive or in a state of repose, as until something expected happens (often followed by for, till, or until):
to wait for the bus to arrive.
(of things) to be available or in readiness:
A letter is waiting for you.
to remain neglected for a time:
a matter that can wait.
to postpone or delay something or to be postponed or delayed:
We waited a week and then bought the house. Your vacation will have to wait until next month.
to look forward to eagerly:
I'm just waiting for the day somebody knocks him down.
verb (used with object)
to continue as one is in expectation of; await:
to wait one's turn at a telephone booth.
to postpone or delay in expectation:
Don't wait supper for me.
Archaic. (of things) to be in readiness for; be reserved for; await:
Glory waits thee.
Archaic. to attend upon or escort, especially as a sign of respect.
an act or instance of waiting or awaiting; delay; halt:
a wait at the border.
a period or interval of waiting:
There will be a long wait between trains.
  1. the time between two acts, scenes, or the like.
  2. stage wait.
  1. waits, (formerly) a band of musicians employed by a city or town to play music in parades, for official functions, etc.
  2. a street musician, especially a singer.
  3. one of a band of carolers.
  4. a piece sung by carolers, especially a Christmas carol.
Obsolete. a watchman.
Verb phrases
wait on,
  1. to perform the duties of an attendant or servant for.
  2. to supply the wants of a person, as serving a meal or serving a customer in a store.
  3. to call upon or visit (a person, especially a superior):
    to wait on Her Majesty at the palace.
  4. Falconry. (of a hawk) to soar over ground until prey appears.
  5. Chiefly Midland and Southern U.S. to wait for (a person); await.
  6. Also, wait upon. to await (an event).
wait up,
  1. to postpone going to bed to await someone's arrival.
  2. Informal. to halt and wait for another to join one, as in running or walking:
    Wait up, I can't walk so fast.
lie in wait, to wait in ambush:
The army lay in wait in the forest.
wait table. table (def 26).
Origin of wait
early Middle English
1150-1200; (v.) early Middle English waiten < Anglo-French waitier; Old French guaitier < Germanic; cognate with Old High German wahtēn to watch, derivative of wahta a watch (see wake1); (noun) late Middle English < AF derivative of waitier
Can be confused
wait, weight.
1. await, linger, abide, delay. Wait, tarry imply pausing to linger and thereby putting off further activity until later. Wait usually implies staying for a limited time and for a definite purpose, that is, for something expected: to wait for a train. Tarry is a somewhat archaic word for wait, but it suggests lingering, perhaps aimlessly delaying, or pausing (briefly) in a journey: to tarry on the way home; to tarry overnight at an inn.
Usage note
15e, f. Sometimes considered objectionable in standard usage, the idiom wait on meaning “to wait for, to await (a person)” is largely confined to speech or written representations of speech. It is most common in the Midland and Southern United States: Let's not wait on Rachel, she's always late. Wait on or upon (an event) does not have a regional pattern and occurs in a wide variety of contexts: We will wait on (or upon) his answer and make our decision then. The completion of the merger waits upon news of a drop in interest rates. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2017.
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Examples from the Web for wait up
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • A clock chimed ten, and she proceeded to her mother's room, where she must wait up with her information about Mr. Jasper's wife.

    Linda Condon Joseph Hergesheimer
  • The boots, it seemed, had been instructed to wait up for him, but she had long gone to bed.

    Simon J. Storer Clouston
  • Quick, Tubby, try and attract his attention again—tell him for goodness' sake to wait up there and take another message!

  • No one was to wait up for her, in case she might be late, she said; she was taking a latch-key as usual.

  • We shouldn't be long if it was fine, but if 'twas wet we might have to wait up in places.

    Little Folks Various
  • No, Polly will wait up for us, make your mind easy on that, Bob.

  • "You need not wait up for us, after nine o'clock," Dick said, as he mounted.

    The Tiger of Mysore G. A. Henty
  • The old one was to lock the door behind us, and wait up with my mother.

    My Little Sister Elizabeth Robins
  • He should not wait up, I would let myself in; and I went out.

    The Sleuth of St. James's Square Melville Davisson Post
British Dictionary definitions for wait up

wait up

verb (intransitive, adverb)
to delay going to bed in order to await some event
(informal, mainly US & Canadian) to halt and pause in order that another person may catch up


when intr, often foll by for, until, or to. to stay in one place or remain inactive in expectation (of something); hold oneself in readiness (for something)
to delay temporarily or be temporarily delayed: that work can wait
when intr, usually foll by for. (of things) to be in store (for a person): success waits for you in your new job
(intransitive) to act as a waiter or waitress
the act or an instance of waiting
a period of waiting
(pl) (rare) a band of musicians who go around the streets, esp at Christmas, singing and playing carols
an interlude or interval between two acts or scenes in a play, etc
lie in wait, to prepare an ambush (for someone)
See also wait on, wait up
Word Origin
C12: from Old French waitier; related to Old High German wahtēn to wake1
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for wait up



early 13c., "a watcher, onlooker," from Old North French wait, Old French gaite, from gaitier (see wait (v.)). From late 14c. as "an ambush, a trap" (as in lie in wait).



c.1200, "to watch with hostile intent, lie in wait for," from Old North French waitier "to watch" (Old French gaitier, Modern French guetter), from Frankish *wahton (cf. Dutch wacht "a watching," Old High German wahten, German wachten "to watch, to guard;" Old High German wahhon "to watch, be awake," Old English wacian "to be awake;" see wake (v.)). General sense of "remain in some place" is from late 14c.; that of "to see to it that something occurs" is late 14c. Meaning "to stand by in attendance on" is late 14c.; specific sense of "serve as an attendant at a table" is from 1560s. Related: Waited; waiting.

To wait (something) out "endure a period of waiting" is recorded from 1909, originally American English, in reference to baseball batters trying to draw a base on balls. Waiting game is recorded from 1890. Waiting room is attested from 1680s. Waiting list is recorded from 1897; the verb wait-list "to put (someone) on a waiting list" is recorded from 1960.


early 13c., "a watcher, onlooker," from Old North French wait, Old French gaite, from gaitier (see wait (v.)). From late 14c. as "an ambush, a trap" (as in lie in wait).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Slang definitions & phrases for wait up

wait up

verb phrase

To pause, when well ahead, for someone to overtake one •Often a panting request (1920s+)

The Dictionary of American Slang, Fourth Edition by Barbara Ann Kipfer, PhD. and Robert L. Chapman, Ph.D.
Copyright (C) 2007 by HarperCollins Publishers.
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Idioms and Phrases with wait up

wait up

Postpone going to bed in anticipation of someone or something, as in My parents always wait up until I get home, no matter how late it is. [ Mid-1800s ]
Stop or pause so that another can catch up, as in Let's wait up for the stragglers, or Don't walk so fast; wait up for me.
The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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