Definition: Waste

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(Redirected from Waste)

Etymology 1

From Middle English wast, waste (a waste), from Anglo-Norman, Old Northern French wast, waste (a waste), from Frankish *wōstī (a waste), from Proto-Germanic *wōstaz, *wōstuz, from Proto-Indo-European *h₁weh₂- (empty, wasted). Displaced native Old English essian and strȳndan. Largely overtook Old English forspillan and weste.


waste (countable and uncountable, plural wastes)

  1. Excess of material, useless by-products or damaged, unsaleable products; garbage; rubbish.
  2. Excrement or urine.
    The cage was littered with animal waste.
  3. A wasteland; an uninhabited desolate region; a wilderness or desert.
  4. A place that has been laid waste or destroyed.
  5. A large tract of uncultivated land.
  6. (historical) The part of the land of a manor (of whatever size) not used for cultivation or grazing, nowadays treated as common land.
  7. A vast expanse of water.
  8. A disused mine or part of one.
  9. The action or progress of wasting; extravagant consumption or ineffectual use.
    That was a waste of time!
    Her life seemed a waste.
  10. A large abundance of something, specifically without it being used.
  11. Gradual loss or decay.
  12. A decaying of the body by disease; atrophy; wasting away.
  13. (law) A cause of action which may be brought by the owner of a future interest in property against the current owner of that property to prevent the current owner from degrading the value or character of the property, either intentionally or through neglect.
  14. (geology) Material derived by mechanical and chemical erosion from the land, carried by streams to the sea.

Derived terms

  • agrowaste
  • cotton waste
  • e-waste
  • go to waste
  • industrial waste
  • nuclear waste
  • radioactive waste
  • residual waste
  • rock waste
  • silk waste
  • time-waste
  • toxic waste
  • trade waste
  • voluntary waste
  • waste bin
  • waste disposal
  • wasteful
  • wastefulness
  • waste land
  • wasteless
  • waste paper
  • waste product

Etymology 2

From Middle English wast, waste (waste), from Anglo-Norman, Old Northern French wast (waste), from Frankish *wōstī (waste, empty), from Proto-Indo-European *h₁weh₂- (empty, wasted). Cognate with Old High German wuosti, wuasti (waste, empty), German wüst, Old Saxon wōsti (desolate), Old English wēste (waste, barren, desolate, empty).


waste (comparative more waste, superlative most waste)

  1. Barren; desert; empty.
  2. Rejected as being defective; eliminated as being worthless; produced in excess.
  3. Superfluous; needless.
  4. Dismal; gloomy; cheerless.
  5. Unfortunate; disappointing.

Usage notes

Same meanings as wasted.

Derived terms

  • lay waste
  • unwasted
  • wasteland
  • wasteness
  • waste water

Etymology 3

From Middle English wasten (to waste, lay waste), from Anglo-Norman, Old Northern French waster (to waste, devastate) (compare also the variant gaster and French gâter from a related Old French word); the Anglo-Norman form waster was either from Frankish *wōstijan (to waste), from Proto-Indo-European *wāsto- (empty, wasted), or alternatively from Latin vastāre, present active infinitive of vastō and influenced by the Frankish; the English word was assisted by similarity to native Middle English westen (to waste); English weest. Cognate with Old High German wuostan, wuastan, wuostjan (to waste) (Modern German wüsten), Old English wēstan (to lay waste, ravage).


waste (third-person singular simple present wastes, present participle wasting, simple past and past participle wasted)

  1. To devastate; to destroy.
  2. To squander (money or resources) uselessly; to spend (time) idly.
    We wasted millions of dollars and several years on that project.
  3. (transitive) To wear away by degrees; to impair gradually; to deteriorate; to diminish by constant loss; to use up; to consume; to spend; to wear out.
  4. To gradually lose weight, weaken, become frail.
  5. To be diminished; to lose bulk, substance, strength, value etc. gradually.
  6. (law) To damage, impair, or injure (an estate, etc.) voluntarily, or by allowing the buildings, fences, etc., to fall into decay.

Derived terms

  • wastage
  • waste away
  • waste breath
  • waster
  • waste time
  • wastewater


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