Old English wæps, wæsp "wasp," altered (probably by influence of Latin vespa) from Proto-Germanic *wabis- (source also of Old Saxon waspa, Middle Dutch wespe, Dutch wesp, Old High German wafsa, German Wespe, Danish hveps), from PIE *wopsa-/*wospa- "wasp" (source also of Latin vespa, Lithuanian vapsa, Old Church Slavonic vosa "wasp," Old Irish foich "drone"), perhaps from root *(h)uebh- "weave" (see weave (v.)). If that is the correct derivation, the insect would be so called for the shape of its nest. Of persons with wasp-like tendencies, from c. 1500. Wasp-waist in reference to women's figures is recorded from 1870 (wasp-waisted is from 1775).
A similar formation appears in Old English wes þu hal, but this is not recorded as a drinking salutation. Sense extended c. 1300 to "liquor in which healths were drunk," especially spiced ale used in Christmas Eve celebrations. Meaning "a carousal, reveling" first attested c. 1600. Wassailing "custom of going caroling house to house at Christmas time" is recorded from 1742.
Replaced or merged with Old English westen, woesten "a desert, wilderness," from the Latin word. Meanings "consumption, depletion," also "useless expenditure" are from c. 1300; sense of "refuse matter" is attested from c. 1400. Waste basket first recorded 1850.