American English

Definition of wait verb from the Oxford Advanced American Dictionary



    Verb Forms present simple I / you / we / they wait
    he / she / it waits
    past simple waited
    -ing form waiting
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  1. 1[intransitive, transitive] to stay where you are or delay doing something until someone or something comes or something happens She rang the bell and waited. The president agreed to speak to the waiting journalists. + adv./prep. Have you been waiting long? I've been waiting (for) twenty minutes. I'll wait outside until the meeting's over. wait for somebody/something Wait for me! wait for somebody/something to do something We're waiting for the rain to stop before we go out. wait to do something Hurry up! We're waiting to go. wait your turn You'll just have to wait your turn (= wait until your turn comes).
  2. 2[intransitive, transitive] to hope or watch for something to happen, especially for a long time wait (for something) This is just the opportunity I've been waiting for. wait for somebody/something to do something He's waiting for me to make a mistake.
  3. 3be waiting [intransitive] (of things) to be ready for someone to have or use wait (for somebody) There's a letter waiting for you at home. wait to do something The hotel had a taxi waiting to pick us up.
  4. 4[intransitive] to be left to be dealt with at a later time because it is not urgent I've got some calls to make but they can wait until tomorrow. I'm afraid this can't wait. It's very important.
  5. Idioms
    an accident/a disaster waiting to happen
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    a thing or person that is very likely to cause danger or a problem in the future because of the condition it is in or the way they behave
    (waiting) in the wings
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    ready to take over a particular job or be used in a particular situation when needed A whole host of ambitious young managers were waiting in the wings.
    I, they, etc. can't wait/can hardly wait
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     used when you are emphasizing that someone is very excited about something or keen to do it The children can't wait forChristmas to come. I can hardly wait to see him again.
    keep somebody waiting
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    to make someone have to wait or be delayed, especially because you arrive late I'm sorry to have kept you waiting.
    let the dust settle, wait for the dust to settle
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    to wait for a situation to become clear or certain He waited for the dust to settle after the election before making any new decisions.
    wait and see
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    used to tell someone that they must be patient and wait to find out about something later We'll just have to wait and see — there's nothing we can do at the moment. a wait-and-see policy “Where are we going?” “Wait and see!”
      wait a minute/moment/second
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    1. 1to wait for a short time Can you wait a second while I make a call?
    2. 2used when you have just noticed or remembered something, or had a sudden idea Wait a minute — this isn't the right key.
    wait on somebody hand and foot (disapproving)
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    to take care of someone's needs so well that they do not have to do anything for themselves He seems to expect me to wait on him hand and foot.
    wait tables
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    to work serving food to people in a restaurant
    wait till/until… (informal)
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    used to show that you are very excited about telling or showing something to someone Wait till you see what I found!
    what are we waiting for? (informal)
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    used to suggest that you should all start doing what you have been discussing
    what are you waiting for? (informal)
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    used to tell someone to do something now rather than later If the car needs to be cleaned, what are you waiting for?
    (just) you wait
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    used to emphasize a threat, warning, or promise I'll be famous one day, just you wait!
    Phrasal Verbswait aroundwait on somebodywait on something/somebodywait somethingoutwait upwait up (for somebody)
See the Oxford Advanced Learner's Dictionary entry: wait