in waiting


a period of waiting; pause, interval, or delay.
serving or being in attendance: waiting man; waiting maid; waiting woman.
in waiting, in attendance, as upon a royal personage.

1150–1200; Middle English (noun); see wait, -ing1, -ing2

waitingly, adverb Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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Word Origin & History

c.1200, "to watch with hostile intent, lie in wait for," from O.N.Fr. waitier "to watch" (Fr. guetter), from Frank. *wahton (cf. Du. wacht "a watching," O.H.G. wahten, Ger. wachten "to watch, to guard;" O.H.G. wahhon "to watch, be awake," O.E. wacian "to be awake;" see
wake (v.)). General sense of "remain in some place" is from 1375; meaning "serve as an attendant at a table" is from 1568. The noun is first attested c.1300. To wait (something) out "endure a period of waiting" is recorded from 1909, originally Amer.Eng., in ref. to baseball batters trying to draw a base on balls. Waiting game is recorded from 1890. Waiting room is attested from 1683. Waiting list is recorded from 1897; the verb wait-list "to put (someone) on a waiting list" is recorded from 1960.
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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American Heritage
Idioms & Phrases

in waiting

In attendance, especially on a royal personage. For example, The prelates who were in waiting asked him to take the last rites. This usage has become less common with the diminution of royalty and royal courts but still survives. [Late 1600s]

The American Heritage® Dictionary of Idioms by Christine Ammer.
Copyright © 1997. Published by Houghton Mifflin.
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