waitress (n.)
"woman who waits tables at a restaurant," 1834, from waiter + -ess.
waitstaff (n.)
1981, American English; see waiter + staff (n.).
waive (v.)
c.1300, "deprive of legal protection," from Anglo-French weyver "to abandon, waive" (Old French guever "to abandon, give back"), probably from a Scandinavian source akin to Old Norse veifa "to swing about," from Proto-Germanic *waif- (see waif). In Middle English legal language, used of rights, goods, or women.
If the defendant be a woman, the proceeding is called a waiver; for as women were not sworn to the law by taking the oath of allegiance in the leet (as men anciently were when of the age of twelve years and upwards), they could not properly be outlawed, but were said to be waived, i.e., derelicta, left out, or not regarded. [from section subtitled "Outlawry" in J.J.S. Wharton, "Law-Lexicon, or Dictionary of Jurisprudence," London, 1867]
Related: Waived; waiving.
waiver (n.)
"act of waiving," 1620s (modern usage is often short for waiver clause); from Anglo-French legal usage of infinitive as a noun (see waive). Baseball waivers is recorded from 1907. Other survivals of noun use of infinitives in Anglo-French legalese include disclaimer, merger, rejoinder, misnomer, ouster, retainer, attainder.
wake (v.)
"to become awake," a Middle English merger of Old English wacan "to become awake, arise, be born, originate," and Old English wacian "to be or remain awake," both from Proto-Germanic *waken (cognates: Old Saxon wakon, Old Norse vaka, Danish vaage, Old Frisian waka, Dutch waken, Old High German wahhen, German wachen "to be awake," Gothic wakan "to watch"), from PIE root *weg- (2) "to be strong, be lively" (cognates: Sanskrit vajah "force, strength; swiftness, speed," vajayati "drives on;" Latin vigil "watchful, awake," vigere "be lively, thrive," velox "fast, lively," vegere "to enliven;" vigil "awake, wakeful," vigor "liveliness, activity"). Causative sense "to rouse from sleep" is attested from c.1300. Related: Waked; waking.
wake (n.2)
"state of wakefulness," Old English -wacu (in nihtwacu "night watch"), related to watch (n.); and partly from Old Norse vaka "vigil, eve before a feast," related to vaka "be awake" (cognates: Old High German wahta "watch, vigil," Middle Dutch wachten "to watch, guard;" see wake (v.)). Meaning "a sitting up at night with a corpse" is attested from early 15c. (the verb in this sense is recorded from mid-13c.; as a noun lichwake is from late 14c.). The custom largely survived as an Irish activity. Wakeman (c.1200), which survives as a surname, was Middle English for "watchman."
wake (n.1)
"track left by a moving ship," 1540s, perhaps from Middle Low German or Middle Dutch wake "hole in the ice," from Old Norse vök, vaka "hole in the ice," from Proto-Germanic *wakwo. The sense perhaps evolved via "track made by a vessel through ice." Perhaps the English word is directly from Scandinavian. Figurative use (such as in the wake of "following close behind") is recorded from 1806.
wake-up (n.)
something that brings one to alertness or out of sleep, 1965, often in the 1960s in reference to a shot of heroin in the morning. Phrase wake-up call is attested from 1968, originally a call one received from the hotel desk in the morning. Verbal phrase wake up is from 1530s; earlier the adverb was out (late 14c.)
wakeful (adj.)
c.1400, "diligent," from wake (n.2) + -ful. Related: Wakefully; wakefulness.
waken (v.)
"to become awake, cease to sleep," Old English wæcnan, wæcnian "to rise, awake; spring from, come into being," from the same source as wake (v.). OED regards the ending as the -n- "suffix of inchoative verbs of state," but Barnhart rejects this and says it is simply -en (1). Figurative sense was in Old English. Transitive sense of "to rouse (someone or something) from sleep" is recorded from c.1200. Related: Wakened; wakening.
Waldensian
c.1600, from Waldenses (plural), mid-15c., from Medieval Latin, apparently from Waldensis, a variant form of the surname of Peter Waldo, the preacher who originated the sect c.1170 in southern France. Excommunicated 1184, they eventually were swept into the Protestant revolt (16c.).
Waldorf salad
1911, from Waldorf-Astoria Hotel in New York, where it first was served.
wale (n.)
Old English walu "ridge, bank" of earth or stone, later "ridge made on flesh by a lash" (related to weal (n.2)); from Proto-Germanic *walo (cognates: Low German wale "weal," Old Frisian walu "rod," Old Norse völr "round piece of wood," Gothic walus "a staff, stick," Dutch wortel, German wurzel "root"), from PIE root *wel- (3) "to turn, roll" (see volvox). The common notion perhaps is "raised line." Used in reference to the ridges of textile fabric from 1580s. Wales "horizontal planks which extend along a ship's sides" is attested from late 13c.
Wales
see Welsh.
walk (v.)
"travel on foot," c.1200, a merger of two verbs, 1. Old English wealcan "to toss, roll, move round" (past tense weolc, past participle wealcen), and 2. wealcian "to roll up, curl," from Proto-Germanic *welk- (cognates: Old Norse valka "to drag about," Danish valke "to full" (cloth), Middle Dutch walken "to knead, press, full" (cloth), Old High German walchan "to knead," German walken "to full"), perhaps ultimately from PIE root *wel- (3) "to turn, roll" (see volvox).

The shift in sense is perhaps from a colloquial use of the Old English word or via the sense of "to full cloth" (by treading on it), though this sense does not appear until after the change in meaning. In 13c. it is used of snakes and the passage of time, and in 15c. of wheeled carts. "Rarely is there so specific a word as NE walk, clearly distinguished from both go and run" [Buck]. Meaning "to go away" is recorded from mid-15c. Transitive meaning "to exercise a dog (or horse)" is from late 15c.; meaning "to escort (someone) in a walk" is from 1620s. Meaning "move (a heavy object) by turning and shoving it in a manner suggesting walking" is by 1890. To walk it off, of an injury, etc., is from 1741. Related: Walked; walking.
walk (n.)
c.1200, "a tossing, rolling;" mid-13c., "an act of walking, a going on foot;" late 14c., "a stroll," also "a path, a walkway;" from walk (v.). The meaning "broad path in a garden" is from 1530s. Meaning "particular manner of walking" is from 1650s. Meaning "manner of action, way of living" is from 1580s; hence walk of life (1733). Meaning "range or sphere of activity" is from 1759. Sports sense of "base on balls" is recorded from 1905; to win in a walk (1854) is from horse racing (see walk-over). As a type of sponsored group trek as a fund-raising event, by 1971 (walk-a-thon is from 1963).
walk-in (adj.)
1928, "without appointment," from the verbal phrase, from walk (v.) + in (adv.). As a noun, meaning "walk-in closet," by 1946.
walk-on (n.)
"minor non-speaking role," 1902, theatrical slang, from the verbal phrase walk on, attested in theater jargon by 1897 with a sense "appear in crowd scenes," from walk (v.) + on (adv.). Meaning "actor who has such a part" is attested from 1946. The sports team sense is recorded from 1974.
walk-out (n.)
"strike," 1888, from walk (v.) + out (adv.). Phrase walk out "to leave" is attested by 1840. To walk out on a person "desert, forsake" is by 1913.
walk-over (n.)
"easy victory," 1838, such as one that happens in the absence of competitors, when the solitary starter, being obliged to complete the event, can traverse the course at a walk. Transferred sense of "anything accomplished with great ease" is attested from 1902. To walk (all) over (someone) "treat with contempt" is from 1851.
walk-through (n.)
also walkthrough, 1944, "an easy part" (in a theatrical production), from walk (v.) + through. Meaning "dry run, full rehearsal" is from 1959, from the notion of "walking (someone) through" something.
walk-up (adj.)
in reference to an apartment not accessible by elevator, 1909, from the verbal phrase; see walk (v.) + up (adv.). As a noun from 1920 in reference to that type of apartment.
walkabout (n.)
"periodic migration by a westernized Aboriginal into the bush," 1828, Australian English, from walk (v.) + about.
Walker
surname, early 13c., probably an agent noun from walk (v.) in the sense "to full cloth." preserves the cloth-fulling sense (walker with this meaning is attested from c.1300). "Walker" or "Hookey Walker" was a common slang retort of incredulity in early and mid-19c. London, for which "Various problematic explanations have been offered" [Century Dictionary].
"Is it?" said Scrooge. "Go and buy it."
"Walk-ER!" exclaimed the boy.
"No, no," said Scrooge. "I am in earnest" (etc.)
[Dickens, "A Christmas Carol"]
walkie-talkie (n.)
1939, popularized in World War II army slang, from walk (v.) + talk (v.).
walking (adj.)
c.1400, present participle adjective from walk (v.). Walking sickness, one in which the sufferer is able to get about and is not bed-ridden, is from 1846. Walking wounded is recorded from 1917. Walking bass is attested from 1939 in jazz slang. Walking stick is recorded from 1570s; the insect so called from 1760.
walkway (n.)
1865, American English, from walk (v.) + way (n.).
wall (n.)
Old English weall, Anglian wall "rampart, dike, earthwork" (natural as well as man-made), "dam, cliff, rocky shore," also "defensive fortification around a city, side of a building," an Anglo-Frisian and Saxon borrowing (Old Saxon, Old Frisian, Middle Low German, Middle Dutch wal) from Latin vallum "wall, rampart, row or line of stakes," apparently a collective form of vallus "stake," from PIE *walso- "a post." Swedish vall, Danish val are from Low German.

Meaning "interior partition of a structure" is mid-13c. In this case, English uses one word where many languages have two, such as German Mauer "outer wall of a town, fortress, etc.," used also in reference to the former Berlin Wall, and wand "partition wall within a building" (compare the distinction, not always rigorously kept, in Italian muro/parete, Irish mur/fraig, Lithuanian muras/siena, etc.). The Latin word for "defensive wall" was murus (see mural).

Anatomical use from late 14c. To give (someone) the wall "allow him or her to walk on the (cleaner) wall side of the pavement" is from 1530s. To turn (one's) face to the wall "prepare to die" is from 1570s. Phrase up the wall "angry, crazy" is from 1951; off the wall "unorthodox, unconventional" is recorded from 1966, American English student slang. To go over the wall "escape" (originally from prison) is from 1933. Wall-to-wall (adj.) recorded 1939, of shelving, etc.; metaphoric use (usually disparaging) is from 1967.
wall (v.)
"to enclose with a wall," late Old English *weallian (implied in geweallod), from the source of wall (n.). Meaning "fill up (a doorway, etc.) with a wall" is from c.1500. Meaning "shut up in a wall, immure" is from 1520s. Related: Walled; walling.
Wall Street (n.)
"U.S. financial world," 1836, from street in New York City that is home to many investment firms and stock traders, as well as NYSE. The street so called because it ran along the interior of the defensive wall of the old Dutch colonial town.
wall-eyed (adj.)
c.1300, wawil-eghed, wolden-eiged, "having very light-colored eyes," also "having parti-colored eyes," from Old Norse vagl-eygr "having speckled eyes," from vagl "speck in the eye; beam, upper cross-beam," from Proto-Germanic *walgaz. Meaning "having one or both eyes turned out" (and thus showing much white) is first recorded 1580s.
wallaby (n.)
kind of small kangaroo, 1826, from native Australian wolaba.
Wallach (n.)
also Walach, one of a Rumanian people, 1786, from German Wallache, from Old Church Slavonic Vlachu, from Old High German wahl "foreigner, one speaking a foreign language" (see Vlach). Related: Wallachia; Wallachian.
wallah (n.)
also walla, "person employed (in some specified business)," Anglo-Indian, from Hindi -wala, suffix forming adjectives with the sense "pertaining to, connected with;" the functional equivalent of English -er (1). Europeans took it to mean "man, fellow" and began using it as a word.
wallbanger (n.)
cocktail made from vodka, Galliano, and orange juice, by 1969, in full Harvey wallbanger. Probably so called from its effect on the locomotive skills of the consumer.
wallboard (n.)
1912, American English, from wall (n.) + board (n.1).
wallet (n.)
late 14c., "bag, knapsack," of uncertain origin, probably from an unrecorded Old North French *walet "roll, knapsack," or similar Germanic word in Anglo-French or Old French, from Proto-Germanic *wall- "roll," from PIE *wel- (3) (see volvox). Meaning "flat case for carrying paper money" is first recorded 1834, American English.
walleye (n.)
type of fish (pike-perch), 1876, American English, said to be so-called from the positioning of the eyes (see wall-eyed).
wallflower (n.)
1570s, type of flowering plant cultivated in gardens, native to southern Europe, where it grows on old walls and in rocky places, from wall (n.) + flower (n.). Colloquial sense of "woman who sits by the wall at parties, often for want of a partner" is first recorded 1820.
Walloon (adj.)
1520s, of a people of what is now souther and southeastern Belgium, also of their language, from Middle French Wallon, literally "foreigner," of Germanic origin (compare Old High German walh "foreigner"). The people are of Gaulish origin and speak a French dialect. The name is a form of the common appellation of Germanic peoples to Romanic-speaking neighbors. See Vlach, also Welsh. As a noun from 1560s; as a language name from 1640s.
wallop (v.)
late 14c., "to gallop," possibly from Old North French *waloper (13c., Old French galoper), from Frankish compound *walalaupan "to run well" (compare Old High German wela "well," see well (adv.); and Old Low Franconian loupon "to run, leap," from Proto-Germanic *hlaupan; see leap (v.)). The meaning "to thrash" (1820) and the noun meaning "heavy blow" (1823) may be separate developments, of imitative origin. Related: Walloped; walloping.
wallow (v.)
Old English wealwian "to roll," from West Germanic *walwon, from PIE root *wel- (3) "to roll" (see volvox). Figurative sense of "to plunge and remain in some state or condition" is attested from early 13c. Related: Wallowed; wallowing. The noun is recorded from 1590s as "act of rolling;" 1841 as "place where an animal wallows."
wallpaper (n.)
also wall-paper, 1827, from wall (n.) + paper (n.).
wally (n.)
term of admiration, Scottish, early 16c., of unknown origin. As a masc. proper name, a diminutive of Walter, and this might be the source of the teen slang term "unfashionable person" (1969).
walnut (n.)
Old English walhnutu "nut of the walnut tree," literally "foreign nut," from wealh "foreign" (see Welsh) + hnutu (see nut). Compare Old Norse valhnot, Middle Low German walnut, Middle Dutch walnote, Dutch walnoot, German Walnuß, So called because it was introduced from Gaul and Italy, distinguishing it from the native hazel nut. Compare the Late Latin name for it, nux Gallica, literally "Gaulish nut." Applied to the tree itself from 1600 (earlier walnut tree, c.1400).
Walpurgis night
1820, from German Walpurgisnacht, witches' revel, especially on the Brocken in the Harz Mountains, on May-day eve, literally "the night of (St.) Walpurgis," from Walburga, English abbess who migrated to Heidenheim, Germany, and died there c.780; May 1 being the day of the removal of her bones from Heidenheim to Eichstädt.
walrus (n.)
1650s, from Dutch walrus, which was probably a folk-etymology alteration (by influence of Dutch walvis "whale" and ros "horse") of a Scandinavian word, such as Old Norse rosmhvalr "walrus," hrosshvalr "a kind of whale," or rostungr "walrus." Old English had horschwæl, and later morse, from Lapp morsa or Finnish mursu, which ultimately might be the source, much garbled, of the first element in Old Norse rosmhvalr.
Walter
masc. proper name, from Old North French Waltier (Old French Gualtier, Modern French Gautier), of Germanic origin and cognate with Old High German Walthari, Walthere, literally "ruler of the army," from waltan "to rule" (see wield) + hari "host, army" (see harry). Walter Mitty (1939) is from title character in "The Secret Life of Walter Mitty" by U.S. short story writer James Thurber (1894-1961).
waltz (n.)
round dance performed to music in triple time, extraordinarily popular as a fashionable dance from late 18c. to late 19c., the dance itself probably of Bohemian origin, 1781, from German Waltzer, from walzen "to roll, dance," from Old High German walzan "to turn, roll," from Proto-Germanic *walt- (cognate with Old Norse velta), from PIE root *wel- (3) "to turn, revolve" (see volvox). Described in 1825 as "a riotous and indecent German dance" [Walter Hamilton, "A Hand-Book or Concise Dictionary of Terms Used in the Arts and Sciences"].
The music struck up a beautiful air, and the dancers advanced a few steps, when suddenly, to my no small horror and amazement, the gentlemen seized the ladies round the waist, and all, as if intoxicated by this novel juxtaposition, began to whirl about the room, like a company of Bacchanalians dancing round a statue of the jolly god. "A waltz!" exclaimed I, inexpressibly shocked, "have I lived to see Scotch women waltz?" ["The Edinburgh Magazine," April, 1820]
waltz (v.)
1794, from waltz (n.). Meaning "to move nimbly" (as one does in dancing a waltz) is recorded from 1862. Related: Waltzed; waltzing.