Waist or Waste?

What Is the Difference between "Waist" and "Waste"?

"Waist" and "waste" are easy to confuse because they sound identical (i.e., they are perfect homonyms). However, their meanings are very different.
  • "Waist" is the middle part of the body. For example:
    • The circumference of your waist is a good measure of fat around your middle. correct tick
  • "Waste" means garbage or rubbish. For example:
    • Please put all waste in the bins before you leave. correct tick
  • "Waste" also means to expend without reason. For example:
    • Do not waste your time with Jack. correct tick
waist or waste?

More about "Waist" and "Waste"

"Waist" and "waste" are homophone homonyms because they sound the same. They are not homograph homophones because they have different spellings. "Waist" and "waste" are both common words, and your readers will expect you to use the right one.


"Waist" is the part of the body between the ribs and hips. A section of clothing that fits the waist may also be called the "waist" (e.g., The waist on this suit is too tight). Similarly, midsections of airplanes and ships can also be referred to as "waists."



"Waste" can be a noun, a verb, or an adjective. It has five main meanings:

(1) Useless materials left over from another activity
(i.e., rubbish small British flag, garbage small American flag).

  • Cellular waste products are a by-product of cellular respiration. correct tick
  • Originally, soya milk was a waste product of tofu. correct tick
  • The new concept encourages producers to leave no municipal waste for landfill.correct tick

(2) To expend materials or resources without reason.

  • Do not waste drinking water. correct tick
  • Junk mail invades our homes and wastes our time. correct tick

(3) To wear away, to weaken, or to tire.

  • Her quadriceps ave wasted badly since the injury. correct tick
  • I am wasted after that run. correct tick
  • (This is a colloquialism. It means "I am tired.")

(4) Uninhabited or uncultivated (usually of land).

  • This area has turned to wasteland since the flood. correct tick

(5) To kill (slang).

  • I am going to waste that little punk. correct tick

Common Terms with "Waist" and "Waste"

Common terms with the word "waist":
  • waistcoat
  • waistline
Common terms with the word "waste":
  • waste away
  • toxic waste
  • waste of space
  • waste of time
  • waste of breath
  • waste land
  • Haste makes waste.
  • Don't waste your breath.

Remembering "Waist"

Imagine the i in the middle of "waist" is a person.
waist in the middle of person
There's a person in the middle of waist. There's a waist in the middle of a person.
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This page was written by Craig Shrives.