Difference Between Similar Terms and Objects

Difference Between Await And Wait


What is the difference between ‘await’ and ‘wait’? The words are very similar, only the addition of a single letter ‘a’ differentiates them. Clearly the meanings are related, however, the words have different usages. ‘Wait’ and ‘Await’ cannot be used interchangeably.

‘Wait’ has a broad usage and meaning. It is most often used as a verb. It means to stay somewhere until an expected event happens, until someone arrives, something happens, something is ready or it is one’s turn. For example: We had to wait a long time in line at the store to buy our groceries. It also has the significance of stopping what one is doing and staying in one place and not doing something until something else happens. For example: Wait here, until I come back. It can also simply mean to delay doing something. For example: I will wait until summer before I take a vacation. Along with that meaning, ‘wait’ can mean to remain in a state of readiness in which you expect or hope that something will happen soon. For example: She waits for the bus every morning. As a noun, ‘wait’, means a period of time when you must wait or be in a state or attitude of watchfulness and expectancy. For example: There is a long wait to get into the movie.

‘Wait’ also has another side to its meaning and usage. When it is used as a verb, ‘wait’ has a meaning and usage associated with restaurant service or attendance as a servant. It can mean to serve a meal or beverage. For example: I wait on tables at work as a waiter. When referring to a servant, it means to be ready to do what is asked. For example: The butler waited upon the old man for years. It also has an old-fashioned, or seldom used meaning that is close to this which means to formally call upon someone in a social visit. For example: The lady waited upon the countess in the Victorian novel.

‘Await’ is only ever used as a verb to mean to wait for something or someone or to be in a state of readiness. For example: We were awaiting the arrival of friends.  It implies anticipation, expectation, hope and watchfulness. It is not used indicate a delay in doing something, but it can be used in place of the verb phrase expressions ‘to wait for’ or ‘to wait on’ and as a synonym for ‘wait’ when used to mean to stay in a place and be ready until something happens. ‘Await’ also does not have a usage as concerns restaurant or service usage. So while using ‘await’ may be correct in some usages of ‘wait’, it cannot always be used in place of ‘wait’.

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