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 Commonly Confused Words: Waist vs. Waste

What does each word mean?

Your waist is where your body narrows slightly between your ribs and hips. 

Click here for the full Spellzone dictionary definition of the word.

Here is waist used in some example sentences:

  • He loved the jeans but they were the wrong waist size. 
  • She tied a belt around her waist.  

Waste refers to an activity that is useless or profitless, the careless use of goods, or materials that are unused or worthless. The word is used as a verb to describe becoming physically weaker or using something inappropriately. 

Click here for the full Spellzone dictionary definition of the word.

Here is waste used in some example sentences:

  • The project ended up being a waste of resources and manpower.
  • We all need to drastically reduce the amount of waste we are producing.
  • His illness was making him waste away. 
  • Her mother told her not to waste so much paper. 


Where does each word come from?

Waist comes from the Old English wæst meaning ‘growth’. It has been used since the late fourteenth century to refer to both the middle part of the body and also the part of a garment that covers the waist. 

Waste dates back to around 1200 when it mean ‘devastate’ and comes from the Old French ‘waster’. 


Are there any tricks to help remember the difference between waist and waste?

  • Think of waste as the extra materials left after a project to help you remember to spell it with an e
  • Imagine the i in waist as a head and body to help you remember to spell it with an i.


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07 Nov 2019
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