Idioms

    lie in wait, to wait in ambush: The army lay in wait in the forest.
    wait table. table(def 26).

Origin of wait

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
SYNONYMS FOR wait
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.
Can be confusedwait weight

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.
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

British Dictionary definitions for wait on (1 of 2)

wait on


verb (intr, preposition)

to serve at the table of
to act as an attendant or servant to
archaic to visit

interjection

Australian and NZ stop! hold on!
Also (for senses 1, 2, 3): wait upon

British Dictionary definitions for wait on (2 of 2)

wait

/ (weɪt) /

verb

noun

See also wait on, wait up

Word Origin for wait

C12: from Old French waitier; related to Old High German wahtēn to wake 1
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

Idioms and Phrases with wait on (1 of 2)

wait on


1

Also, wait upon. Serve, minister to, especially for personal needs or in a store or restaurant. For example, Guests at the Inn should not expect to be waited on—they can make their own beds and get their own breakfast. [Early 1500s]

2

Make a formal call on, as in They waited on the ambassador. [c. 1500]

3

Also, wait upon. Await, remain in readiness for, as in We're waiting on their decision to close the school. This usage, a synonym of wait for, dates from the late 1600s but in the mid-1800s began to be criticized by many authorities. However, by the late 1900s it had come into increasingly wider use and is again largely accepted.

Idioms and Phrases with wait on (2 of 2)

wait


In addition to the idioms beginning with wait

  • wait a minute
  • wait and see
  • wait at table
  • wait for the other shoe to drop
  • waiting game
  • waiting in the wings
  • wait on
  • wait on hand and foot
  • wait out
  • wait up

also see:

  • can't wait
  • hurry up and wait
  • in waiting
  • lie in wait
  • play a waiting game
The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.