Phrase "Waiting to wait"


What would you make of it if someone says: I am waiting to wait?


He/she’ll be put on (or is hoping to be put on) a waiting list in the near future.

Thank you, Molly. But do you have any other choices or possibilities in your mind?

I don’t find much meaning in the expression without context. There are certain situations that involve a lot of waiting around - at the department of motor vehicles to register your car for example. You may have to wait for the opportunity to go to the next station to wait some more. So, at the DMV, if someone said that, I’d get it, but otherwise, without knowing more about where, when, or why it was said, it really doesn’t make sense.

Thank you, Bard, too. I found it interesting because with certain context, as you said, many English words could well have different meanings or usage but I always tend toward concentrating on the commonest one while forget about everything else until someone tells me, for this example, that “wait” could mean “work as a waiter or waitress”. So the tricky expression contains a possibility to mean ‘I am waiting to serve (wait on)’. Isn’t that interesting? Although it’s not so natural.

I did think of the “wait tables” sense, but that is a transitive use. Simply “I’m waiting to wait” without an object doesn’t give you that meaning.

Are you sure?


I’ve waited tables. Which one of you is waiting on those two ladies?

You need an object to go with “wait” to mean “act as a server in a restaurant.” I’m sure.

Then ‘One is waiting on those two ladies’ is grammatically like ‘One is waiting for those two ladies’, right? So, again, grammatically and possibly, “One is waiting” contains a possibility to mean ‘one is acting as a waiter or waitress’, doesn’t it?

Hi Shunichi

As Barb mentioned, you would really need context before anyone might possibly assume that your intended meaning is “I am waiting to wait on customers” or “I am waiting to wait tables”.

I agree with Barb that “I am waiting to wait” doesn’t make a whole lot of sense without any context to help explain it. It’s basically only confusing, in my opinion.

Hi Amy,

I see and thank you. Actually the expression WAS coined to be confusing… not by me, though. I am really sorry for further spreading the confusion but it gives me fun and makes me think of how far an English word or expression could possibly go instead of sitting safe in a safetybox without challenging or even trying not to kill the oppertunity to imagine. Of course go-without-saying things are easy to handle and convenient and comfortable but boring and Disneylandic, aren’t thay? After all, we are not supposed to be their slaves, are we?

Best regards,


Yes, it can be interesting and also fun to play with words. And I agree that “thinking outside the box” can often be very rewarding and beneficial.

I am so happy to hear you say that, Amy, my true-to-her-reputation Amy. :slight_smile: