Waist or Waste – How to Use Each Correctly

enhancedwriting/ August 31, 2017/ Uncategorized

waist versus waste

What’s the Difference Between Waist and Waste?

Waist and waste are two English homophones. This means they sound the same yet have different meanings and spellings.

Waist is a noun that means the part of the body between a person’s ribs and hips. It is the narrowest part between the shoulders and hips. Waist can also refer to a part of clothing that covers this area of the body.

  • The woman wanted a narrower waist for her wedding day, so she was dieting and exercising.
  • The tailor needed to adjust the waist of the dress.

Waste acts as a verb that means to use something recklessly and without regard to efficient use.

  • Most parents hate when their children waste food.

Now, let’s go over a few ways you can use these words in your sentences.

Using Waist in a Sentence

When to use waist: Waist is a noun that refers to a part of the body just above the stomach. It can also reference the area of clothing that covers this body part.

For example,

  • Although it was more popular in the past, some women wear corsets to make their waists seem narrower.
  • This suit fits me very well, except for the waist.

Interestingly, the word originated from an Old English word that meant to grow. This is because this is the part of the body that typically shows weight gain most prominently. This word occurs most often in regard to fashion as well as weight gain and loss.

Using Waste in a Sentence

When to use waste: Waste can act as either a noun or a verb. In both cases, it refers to using more of something than is necessary, often due to lack of caring or lack of foresight.

It can also act as an adjective that describes leftover, useless by-products.

For example,

  • I don’t know why you insist on washing all the dishes by hand before putting them in the dishwasher. It’s a huge waste of time! You could save time by letting the machine do all the work. (noun)
  • I can’t believe you spent $100 on that dress! I got the same one for just $5 the other day. I’m sorry you wasted so much money. (verb)
  • The factories pour their waste products straight into the river. (adjective)

There are several idioms that use waste:

  • to go to waste: to leave unused
    • If you don’t eat your broccoli, it will go to waste.
  • to lay waste: to destroy something, often in battle
    • The Roman army laid waste to all their enemies.
  • to waste away: to become thinner and thinner due to illness or starvation
    • The anorexic teenager began to waste away.
  • a waste of space: a useless and disliked person
    • She never helps with any of our school projects. She’s such a waste of space!
  • a waste of breath: giving someone information that they will ignore
    • Don’t try to help him by giving him your advice. He’ll never listen to it. It’s just a waste of breath.

In addition to the common expressions above, people often refer to a waste of time or money.

Remembering Waist vs. Waste

There are two different ways to remember which word is which.

Waist has the vowels a and i within it. With a little imagination, it looks almost like the letter a is a person with a large waist, and the letter i is a person with a small waist.

Alternatively, waste ends with the letters aste, just like the word taste. Small children often take a single taste of food, decide they don’t like it, and waste the rest of the food by refusing to eat it.

Outside Examples

  • The GoFundMe page said that the impact shattered his C7 vertebrae, and while he can use his upper extremities, he is paralyzed from the waist down. –New York Post
  • By that point the snake was wrapped around her waist and biting her face. –USA Today
  • And in the future, keep in mind that having a lawyer review a contract — even if it passes muster without changes — is not a waste of money anymore than buying car insurance is if you never have an accident. –LA Times
  • Before his testimony on Monday, Kushner issued a statement dismissing the Trump Tower gathering as a “waste of time.” –New York Daily News

Quiz: Waste vs. Waist

Instructions: Fill in the blank with the correct word, either waste or waist.

  • Trying to convince a person to support your political cause is a ________ of time. People have their own opinions and never change them.
  • The models were all very aware of their ___________ size, and some of them had unhealthy diets to try to stay as thin as possible.
  • If you want to have enough money to buy a gift for the party, we can’t ______________ any more money on useless things like garden gnomes.

See answers below.

Article Summary

Should I use waist or waste? These words sound exactly alike, but they have no overlap in meaning.

  • Waist refers to a body part near the center of the body.
  • Waste refers to losing something valuable that didn’t have to be lost.

Typically, if you are talking about bodies, use waist. If you are talking about spending too much time or money, use waste.

Answers from Quiz

  • waste
  • waist
  • waste