Printable Version
Pronunciation: wayv Hear it!

Part of Speech: Verb, transitive

Meaning: 1. Give up a claim or right voluntarily, to relinquish, to surrender a demand or requirement. 2. To refrain from insisting on enforcement of a rule, fine, penalty, etc. 3. (Sports) To place a player on waiver, the process by which a player removed from a roster is made available to other clubs.

Notes: We wave flags, but waive a right—the two are often confused. Don't forget the I in the middle of today's Good Word. A legal document stating that we waive something is called a waiver; again, not to be confused with the verb waver "to vacillate, hesitate". A requirement that may be waived is waivable.

In Play: We find waivers occurring in many places: "So few advance tickets to Amanda Lynn Player's concert were sold, the organizers decided to just waive the entrance fee." They even occur in government: "Vice President Cheney waived the bidding process when the company he presided over approached him for a defense contract."

Word History: This word in Middle English was weyven from Anglo-Norman weyver, a dialectal variant of Old French gaiver, guesver "to allow to become a 'waif', to abandon". This word was borrowed from Germanic waif- "to turn, vacillate" but, since French has no [w] sound, they used the next best thing [gw] GU. Germanic waif- evolved from PIE weip- "to turn, to vacillate", which turned up in English as wipe and whip. Latin inherited the PIE word as vibrare "to vibrate, agitate", whose past participle vibratus "agitated" English also borrowed and reconstructed as vibrate. Finally, this word made it through English's Germanic ancestors as waif "an orphan", a child, whose family has, for one reason or another, turned away from it. (We cannot waive a word of thanks to Jackie Strauss, who never wavers in her decisions to recommend Good Words like today's.)

Dr. Goodword,

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