Origin of waist

1300–50; Middle English wast, apocopated variant of wastum, Old English wæstm growth, form, figure; akin to wax2
Related formswaist·less, adjective
Can be confusedwaist waste
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for waist

Contemporary Examples of waist

Historical Examples of waist

  • The figure was clearly alien, though startlingly humanoid—at least from the waist up, which was all that showed in the screen.

  • Sam uttered an uncontrollable howl and sprang upon Penrod, catching him round the waist.

    Penrod and Sam

    Booth Tarkington

  • Her skirt was without a braid and frayed, and two buttons were gone from the front of her waist.


    George Madden Martin

  • The figure is broken at the waist, and the upper part is thrown back on the ground.

  • And Tom caught his brother by the waist and whirled him around.

    The Rover Boys Down East

    Arthur M. Winfield

British Dictionary definitions for waist



anatomy the constricted part of the trunk between the ribs and hips
the part of a garment covering the waist
the middle part of an object that resembles the waist in narrowness or position
the middle part of a ship
Also called: centre section the middle section of an aircraft fuselage
the constriction between the thorax and abdomen in wasps and similar insects
Derived Formswaistless, adjective

Word Origin for waist

C14: origin uncertain; related to Old English wæstm wax ²
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

Word Origin and History for waist

"middle part of the body," also "part of a garment fitted for the waist," late 14c., probably from Old English *wæst "growth," hence, "where the body grows," from Proto-Germanic *wahs-tu- (cf. Old English wæstm, Old Norse vaxtr, Swedish växt, Old High German wahst "growth, increase," Gothic wahstus "stature," Old English weaxan "to grow" see wax (v.)), from PIE *wegs-, extended form of root *aug- "to increase" (see augment). Meaning "portion of a garment that covers the waist" (but, due to fashion styles, often is above or below it) is from 1640s.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

Medicine definitions for waist




The part of the human trunk between the bottom of the rib cage and the pelvis.
The middle section or part of an object, especially when narrower than the rest.
The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.