Words of the Day: Waist and Waste



waist  /  wāst




  1. the part of the human body between the ribs and the hips

Your waist size should not be more than half your height.

Mehmet Oz, 1960 –


  1. the narrow part of the body of an insect between its thorax and abdomen

Wasps are distinguishable from bees by their pointed lower abdomens and the narrow “waist,” called a petiole, that separates the abdomen from the thorax.  https://www.nationalgeographic.com/animals/invertebrates/group/wasps/


  1. the part of a garment that covers the torso between the shoulders and the waistline

She wore a costume that struck the boy as being remarkably brilliant: her silken waist being of emerald green and her skirt of four distinct colors — blue in front, yellow at the left side, red at the back and purple at the right side. 

From ‘The Marvelous Land of Oz’ by L. Frank Baum, 1856 – 1919


  1. an object’s mid-section, particularly if it is narrower than the rest

The “waist” of the violin is actually a necessary indentation, so that the bow can move freely across the strings without bumping into the body.

Katharine Rapoport, “Examining the Parts of Your Violin”, Violin for Dummies, 3rd Edition


  1. the mid section of a ship’s upper deck, between the forecastle and the quarterdeck

A lantern was burning on the companion, which enabled the party to see that the waist of the vessel was compactly packed with bales of cotton.

From  “A Victorious Union” by Oliver Optic (William Taylor Adams), 1822 – 1897




waste  /  wāst




  1. useless, considered worthless

The ever-mounting glut of waste materials is characteristic by-product of modern consumer society. 

Stuart Ewen, 1945 –


  1. being wild not refined; desolate; uninhabited

Buckwheat may be planted later than any similar crop, and often does well on old meadows or waste land that can be broken after the more exacting crops are planted.

David F. Houston, 1866 – 1940


  1. in a ruined or devasted state

What I was trying to convey there was the kind of waste land that was left after the war.

George Martin, 1926 – 2016


  1. used as a container for trash or refuse

The waste basket is the writer’s best friend.

Isaac Bashevis Singer, 1902 – 1991


  1. unused or not in use or no longer

Civilization is being poisoned by its own waste products.

William Ralph Inge, 1860 – 1954




  1. anything that is not considered useful or is not wanted

Haste maketh waste. John Heywood, 1491? – after 1575

To study and not think is a waste.

Confucius, 551 BC – 479 BC


  1. an act of squandering

Regret is an appalling waste of energy, you can’t build on it, it’s only good for wallowing in.

Katherine Mansfield, 1888 – 1923


  1. neglect; loss due to non-use

The only waste of human resources is letting them go unused.

Mark Victor Hansen, 1948 –


  1. something that is left over that is not wanted or used or that is unnecessary due to excessiveness

All the waste in a year from a nuclear power plant can be stored under a desk.

Ronald Reagan, 1911 – 2004


  1. gradual decay or weakening

These elements, the cell, oxygen, fluid plasma and temperature, naturally acting and re-acting upon each other, constitute a perfect equilibrium of waste and repair in health.

From “Saint Louis Medical and Surgical Journal”, Volume 41, July 1881


  1. an area that is uninhabited and wild, desolate, or empty

The day had now fairly opened on the seemingly interminable waste of the prairie.

From “The Prairie” by James Fenimore Cooper, 1789 – 1851


  1. a ruined or devasted area

From its slope I could see the devastated waste of the city, with nothing to obstruct my vision to the far horizon.

From “Restless Wave: My Life in Two Worlds” by Ayako Tanaka Ishigaki, 1903 – 1996


  1. garbage, refuse, or rubbish

We subsidize the disposal of waste in all its myriad forms — from landfills, to Superfund cleanups, to deep-well injection, to storage of nuclear waste.

Paul Hawken, 1946 –


  1. excrement; feces

If you continue to contaminate your own home, you will eventually suffocate in your own waste.

Native American Proverb




  1. to lose or cause to lose bodily strength, health or vigor

I wasted time, and now doth time waste me.

William Shakespeare, 1564 – 1616


  1. to throw away, to spend or use carelessly or thoughtlessly

Kindness will never be wasted in any way.

Japanese Proverb


  1. to use up or consume completely

Rust wastes more than use.

French Proverb


  1. to fail to use a given resource or take advantage of

By continually striving for the best, one may waste good opportunities.

British Proverb


  1. to utterly destroy

He slaughtered the people, laid waste their soil, and razed their cities to the ground.

From “The Innocents Abroad” by Mark Twain, 1835 – 1910