Skip to main content

Waist vs. Waste (Grammar Rules)

Learn the differences of waist vs. waste on with Grammar Rules from the Writer's Digest editors, including a few examples of correct usages.

Let's go ahead and look at the homophones of waist and waste. One is an essential human body part; the other is something not quite as valued.

(Grammar rules for writers.)

So let's look at the differences between waist and waste.

Waist vs. Waste (Grammar Rules)

Waist vs. Waste

Waist is a noun meaning the part of the human body between the ribs and hips. It can also be used to describe the part of something that resembles or corresponds to the human waist.

(The Art and Craft of Wasting Time in 20 Quotes.)

Waste, on the other hand, can be used as a noun, adjective, and verb. As a noun, waste refers to the unwanted or unusable materials or other things (like land). It can also refer to using something carelessly or to little purpose. As an adjective, waste is used to describe something that's unwanted or unused. As a verb, waste is the action of using something carelessly or to little purpose and/or becoming weaker or losing power or value.

Make sense?

Here are a couple examples:

Correct: Digging a hole with a toothpick is a waste of time.
Incorrect: Digging a hole with a toothpick is a waist of time.

Correct: These shorts fit perfectly around my waist.
Incorrect: These shorts fit perfectly around my waste.

A person can waste a lot of energy worrying about the dimensions of their waist, but there's nothing wrong with managing your waist and your waste. But how do we remember when to use each term? For me, I think of the "i" in "waist" as my waist. Meanwhile, I take the "e" in "waste" and think of something excluded from use or purpose.

*****

Grammar and Mechanics

No matter what type of writing you do, mastering the fundamentals of grammar and mechanics is an important first step to having a successful writing career.

Click to continue.

Using Beats To Improve Dialogue and Action in Scenes

Using Beats To Improve Dialogue and Action in Scenes

For many writers, dialogue is one of the most difficult things to get right. Here, author and educator Audrey Wick shares how to use beats to improve dialogue and action in scenes.

Olesya Salnikova Gilmore: On Introducing Russian History to Fantasy Readers

Olesya Salnikova Gilmore: On Introducing Russian History to Fantasy Readers

Author Olesya Salnikova Gilmore discusses the changes her manuscript underwent throughout the writing process of her debut historical fantasy novel, The Witch and the Tsar.

Freelance Food Writing: How to Break Into the Industry

Freelance Food Writing: How to Break Into the Industry

Food writer Deanna Martinez-Bey shares her advice on breaking into the freelance food-writing industry, including finding your niche, pitching ideas, and more.

Plot Twist Story Prompts: Red Line Moment

Plot Twist Story Prompts: Red Line Moment

Every good story needs a nice (or not so nice) turn or two to keep it interesting. This week, have somebody cross your character's red line.

Hafizah Augustus Geter: On Confronting Complicated Questions When Writing Memoir

Hafizah Augustus Geter: On Confronting Complicated Questions When Writing Memoir

Award-winning writer Hafizah Augustus Geter discusses how her experience as a poet helped her take on her new memoir, The Black Period.

6 Ways To Collaborate With Other Writers Ahead of Your Book Launch

6 Ways To Collaborate With Other Writers Ahead of Your Book Launch

Writer Aileen Weintraub shares how to find your writing community in the process of launching your book.

Martha Anne Toll: On the Power of Memory

Martha Anne Toll: On the Power of Memory

Author Martha Anne Toll discusses the mythology that inspired her debut novel, Three Muses.

Poetry Prompt

Wednesday Poetry Prompts: 627

Every Wednesday, Robert Lee Brewer shares a prompt and an example poem to get things started on the Poetic Asides blog. This week, write an autumn poem.

Writer's Digest Presents podcast image

Writer's Digest Presents: Working With Literary Agents (Podcast, Episode 8)

In the eighth episode of the Writer's Digest Presents podcast, we discuss all things literary agents—what to look for in an agent, how to best find an agent, and more! Plus, managing editor Moriah Richard sits down for a chat with Margaret Danko, literary agent with Paper Over Board!