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Definition of Waste at Dictionary.com

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.


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.

Words nearby waste

wassily chair






wast water






waste away


waste disposal unit


waste gate


waste heat recovery


waste land, the

Idioms for waste

    go to waste, to fail to be used or consumed; be wasted: She hates to see good food go to waste.

    lay waste, to devastate; destroy; ruin: Forest fires lay waste thousands of acres yearly.

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)


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


waist waste

Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2020

Examples from the Web for waste

  • When twelve people are killed by violence, whoever they are, for whatever reason, that is a tragedy and a waste.

  • A land farm is the term used for a commercial operation where waste from oil and gas extraction is spread on top of the ground.

  • But fishing for rationale in harassment is almost always a waste of time.

  • Waste Management, the large disposal company, has turned its landfills into a fleet of power producers.

  • And as for ShiaChat, “as a younger person I used to waste some of my time arguing with people” there.

  • Waste written-paper is of little use, except for allumettes or lamp-lighters.

  • Wilt thou never cease to waste thy force and energies in intestine struggles?

  • The war, and perhaps other causes, have very seriously reduced our supply of meats, the waste of which cannot soon be repaired.

  • The frontier was closely guarded against the savage tribes who seemed to be occupying the waste lands of northern Europe.

  • To speak of the wines and viands would be a waste of time, and, to cut the story short, there was plenty of everything.

British Dictionary definitions for waste



(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 forms of waste

wastable, 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

Medical definitions for waste



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.

Scientific definitions for waste



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 waste


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.


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