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lie in wait

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Remain hidden while preparing to attack, as in The opposition was quietly lying in wait for the incumbent to make his first big mistake. This expression originally alluded to physical attacks and is now often used figuratively. [Mid-1400s] Also see lay for.

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QUIZ YOURSELF ON "WAS" VS. "WERE"!

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“Was” is used for the indicative past tense of “to be,” and “were” is only used for the subjunctive past tense.

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The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.

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