early 13c., "a watcher, onlooker," from Old North French wait (Old French gait "look-out, watch, sentry"), from Old North French waitier (Old French gaitier; see wait (v.)). Compare Old High German wahta, German Wacht "a watchman." From late 14c. as "an ambush, a trap" (as in lie in wait). From 1855 as "time occupied in waiting;" 1873 as "an act of waiting." From the sense "civic employee responsible for signaling the hour or an alarm by sounding on a trumpet, etc." comes the old sense "town musicians" (mid-15c.).
c. 1200, "to watch with hostile intent, lie in wait for, plot against," from Anglo-French and Old North French waitier "to watch" (Old French gaitier "defend, watch out, be on one's guard; lie in wait for;" Modern French guetter), from Frankish *wahton or another Germanic source, from Proto-Germanic *waht- (source also of Dutch wacht "a watching," Old High German wahten, German wachten "to watch, to guard;" Old High German wahhon "to watch, be awake," Old English wacian "to be awake"), from PIE root *weg- "to be strong, be lively." General sense of "remain in some place" is from late 14c.; that of "to see to it that something occurs" is late 14c. Meaning "to stand by in attendance on" is late 14c.; specific sense of "serve as an attendant at a table" is from 1560s. Related: Waited; waiting.
To wait (something) out "endure a period of waiting" is recorded from 1849. Waiting room is attested from 1680s. Waiting list is recorded from 1841; the verb wait-list "to put (someone) on a waiting list" is recorded from 1960. Waiting game is recorded from 1835, originally in horse-racing.
When speed, not stoutness, is the best of a horse, quite a contrary system is practised. With such a horse, the jockey plays a waiting game; that is, he carefully nurses him through the race, so as not to distress him by overpacing him; as the finish approaches, he creeps up to his horses by degrees, but does not quit them to go in front till he sees that the pace has made them "safe," — when he lets loose and wins. [James Christie Whyte, "History of the British Turf," London, 1840]
late 14c., "attendant, watchman," agent noun from wait (v.). Sense of "attendant at a meal, servant who waits at tables" is from late 15c., originally in reference to household servants; in reference to inns, eating houses, etc., it is attested from 1660s.
Proto-Indo-European root meaning "to be strong, be lively."
It forms all or part of: awake; bewitch; bivouac; invigilate; reveille; surveillance; vedette; vegetable; velocity; vigil; vigilant; vigilante; vigor; waft; wait; wake (v.) "emerge or arise from sleep;" waken; watch; Wicca; wicked; witch.
It is the hypothetical source of/evidence for its existence is provided by: Sanskrit vajah "force, strength," vajayati "drives on;" Latin vigil "watchful, awake," vigere "be lively, thrive," velox "fast, lively," vegere "to enliven," vigor "liveliness, activity;" Old English wacan "to become awake," German wachen "to be awake," Gothic wakan "to watch."
Middle English abiden, from Old English abidan, gebidan "remain, wait, wait for, delay, remain behind," from ge- completive prefix (denoting onward motion; see a- (1)) + bidan "bide, remain, wait, dwell" (see bide).
Originally intransitive (with genitive of the object: we abidon his "we waited for him"); the transitive senses of "endure, sustain, stay firm under," also "tolerate, bear, put up with" (now usually with a negative) are from c. 1200. To abide with "stay with (someone); live with; remain in the service of" is from c. 1300.
Related: Abided; abiding. The historical conjugation was abide, abode, abidden, but in Modern English the formation generally is weak.
early 14c., ministren, "to perform religious rites, provide religious services;" mid-14c., "to serve (food or drink);" late 14c. "render service, aid, or medicine; furnish means of relief or remedy" from Old French menistrer "to serve, be of service, administer, attend, wait on," and directly from Latin ministrare "to serve, attend, wait upon," from minister "inferior, servant, priest's assistant" (see minister (n.)). Related: Ministered; ministering.
late 14c., "solicitous, attentive," from Old French atendant, present participle of atendre "expect, wait for, pay attention" (see attend (v.)). The sense of "serving under, accompanying in a dependent position" is from c. 1400; that of "closely consequent" is from 1610s.
late 14c., "act of attending to one's duties" (archaic), from Old French atendance "attention, wait, hope, expectation," from atendant, present participle of atendre "expect, wait for; pay attention" (see attend).
The meaning "action of waiting on someone" is by late 14c. (to dance attendance on someone is from 1560s); that of "action of being present, presenting oneself" (originally with intent of taking a part) is from mid-15c. The meaning "number of persons present" is from 1835. To take attendance in a classroom or lecture is by 1891.