gradually reducing the fullness and strength of the body: a wasting disease.
laying waste; devastating; despoiling: the ravages of a wasting war.


Geology. mass wasting.

Nearby words

  1. wassily chair,
  2. wassup,
  3. wast,
  4. wast water,
  5. wastage,
  6. waste away,
  7. waste disposal unit,
  8. waste gate,
  9. waste heat recovery,
  10. waste land, the

Origin of wasting

1200–50; Middle English; see waste, -ing2, ing1

Related formswast·ing·ly, adverbwast·ing·ness, nounnon·wast·ing, adjective, noun



verb (used with object), wast·ed, wast·ing.

to consume, spend, or employ uselessly or without adequate return; use to no avail or profit; squander: to waste money; to waste words.
to fail or neglect to use: to waste an opportunity.
to destroy or consume gradually; wear away: The waves waste the rock of the shore.
to wear down or reduce in bodily substance, health, or strength; emaciate; enfeeble: to be wasted by disease or hunger.
to destroy, devastate, or ruin: a country wasted by a long and futile war.
Slang. to kill or murder.

verb (used without object), wast·ed, wast·ing.

to be consumed, spent, or employed uselessly or without giving full value or being fully utilized or appreciated.
to become gradually consumed, used up, or worn away: A candle wastes in burning.
to become physically worn; lose flesh or strength; become emaciated or enfeebled.
to diminish gradually; dwindle, as wealth, power, etc.: The might of England is wasting.
to pass gradually, as time.


useless consumption or expenditure; use without adequate return; an act or instance of wasting: The project was a waste of material, money, time, and energy.
neglect, instead of use: waste of opportunity.
gradual destruction, impairment, or decay: the waste and repair of bodily tissue.
devastation or ruin, as from war or fire.
a region or place devastated or ruined: The forest fire left a blackened waste.
anything unused, unproductive, or not properly utilized.
an uncultivated tract of land.
a wild region or tract of land; desolate country, desert, or the like.
an empty, desolate, or dreary tract or extent: a waste of snow.
anything left over or superfluous, as excess material or by-products, not of use for the work in hand: a fortune made in salvaging factory wastes.
remnants, as from the working of cotton, used for wiping machinery, absorbing oil, etc.
Physical Geography. material derived by mechanical and chemical disintegration of rock, as the detritus transported by streams, rivers, etc.
garbage; refuse.
wastes, excrement.


not used or in use: waste energy; waste talents.
(of land, regions, etc.) wild, desolate, barren, or uninhabited; desert.
(of regions, towns, etc.) in a state of desolation and ruin, as from devastation or decay.
left over or superfluous: to utilize waste products of manufacture.
having served or fulfilled a purpose; no longer of use.
rejected as useless or worthless; refuse: to salvage waste products.
Physiology. pertaining to material unused by or unusable to the organism.
designed or used to receive, hold, or carry away excess, superfluous, used, or useless material (often in combination): a waste pipe; waste container.
Obsolete. excessive; needless.

Origin of waste

1150–1200; 1960–65 for def 6; (adj.) Middle English < Old North French wast (Old French g(u)ast) < Latin vāstus desolate; (v.) Middle English < Old North French waster (Old French g(u)aster) < Latin vāstāre, derivative of vāstus; (noun) Middle English < Old North French wast(e) (Old French g(u)aste), partly < Latin vāstum, noun use of neuter of vāstus, partly derivative of waster; Old North French w-, Old French gu- by influence of cognate with Frankish *wōsti desolate (cognate with Old High German wuosti)

Related formswast·a·ble, adjectivewaste·less, adjectiveout·waste, verb (used with object), out·wast·ed, out·wast·ing.un·wast·a·ble, adjective

Can be confusedwaist waste

Synonym study

19. See desert1. 36. See ravage.

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

Examples from the Web for wasting

British Dictionary definitions for wasting



(prenominal) reducing the vitality, strength, or robustness of the bodya wasting disease
Derived Formswastingly, adverb



(tr) to use, consume, or expend thoughtlessly, carelessly, or to no avail
(tr) to fail to take advantage ofto waste an opportunity
(when intr, often foll by away) to lose or cause to lose bodily strength, health, etc
to exhaust or become exhausted
(tr) to ravage
(tr) informal to murder or killI want that guy wasted by tomorrow


the act of wasting or state of being wasted
a failure to take advantage of something
anything unused or not used to full advantage
anything or anyone rejected as useless, worthless, or in excess of what is required
garbage, rubbish, or trash
a land or region that is devastated or ruined
a land or region that is wild or uncultivated
  1. the useless products of metabolism
  2. indigestible food residue
disintegrated rock material resulting from erosion
law reduction in the value of an estate caused by act or neglect, esp by a life-tenant


rejected as useless, unwanted, or worthless
produced in excess of what is required
not cultivated, inhabited, or productivewaste land
  1. of or denoting the useless products of metabolism
  2. of or denoting indigestible food residue
destroyed, devastated, or ruined
designed to contain or convey waste products
lay waste to devastate or destroy
Derived Formswastable, adjective

Word Origin for waste

C13: from Anglo-French waster, from Latin vastāre to lay waste, from vastus empty

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 wasting
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

Medicine definitions for wasting




Gradually deteriorating; declining.
Sapping the strength or substance of the body, as a disease; emaciating.






To gradually lose energy, strength, or bodily substance, as from disease.


The undigested residue of food eliminated from the body; excrement.

The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.

Science definitions for wasting




An unusable or unwanted substance or material, such as a waste product. See also hazardous waste landfill.


To lose or cause to lose energy, strength, weight, or vigor, as by the progressive effects of a disease such as metastatic cancer.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary Copyright © 2011. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.

Idioms and Phrases with wasting


In addition to the idioms beginning with waste

  • waste away
  • waste not, want not
  • waste one's breath

also see:

  • go to waste
  • haste makes waste
  • lay waste
The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.