If waste is useless, then to waste is to fritter away. Don't waste time putting your waste paper in the waste basket, just chuck it in the recycling bin.

As a noun, waste, meaning “desolate regions” stems from the Old English westen, meaning “a desert, wilderness.” Later, it came to imply a “useless activity,” and even later than that, “refuse matter,” or “trash.” As a verb, waste “devastate, ruin,” comes from the Latin vastare, “to lay waste.” It later adopted the sense of “spend or consume uselessly.” It can also mean “to kill.” The poet E. E. Cummings said, “The most wasted of all days is one without laughter.”

Primary Meanings of waste

use inefficiently or inappropriately
the trait of wasting resources
get rid of
lose vigor, health, or flesh, as through grief
cause extensive destruction or ruin utterly
an uninhabited wilderness that is worthless for cultivation
located in a dismal or remote area; desolate
Full Definitions of waste

v use inefficiently or inappropriately

waste heat”
waste a joke on an unappreciative audience”
Type of:
apply, employ, use, utilise, utilize
put into service; make work or employ for a particular purpose or for its inherent or natural purpose

v spend thoughtlessly; throw away

“He wasted his inheritance on his insincere friends”
blow, squander
spend lavishly or wastefully on
conserve, economise, economize, husband
use cautiously and frugally
spend (significant amounts of money)
Type of:
expend, use
use up, consume fully

v spend extravagantly

waste not, want not”
consume, squander, ware
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dissipate, fool, fool away, fritter, fritter away, frivol away, shoot
spend frivolously and unwisely
luxuriate, wanton
become extravagant; indulge (oneself) luxuriously
lavish, shower
expend profusely; also used with abstract nouns
spend at a high rate
fling, splurge
indulge oneself
Type of:
drop, expend, spend
pay out

n the trait of wasting resources

thriftlessness, wastefulness
Type of:
improvidence, shortsightedness
a lack of prudence and care by someone in the management of resources

n any materials unused and rejected as worthless or unwanted

“they collect the waste once a week”
“much of the waste material is carried off in the sewers”
waste material, waste matter, waste product
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dross, impurity
worthless or dangerous material that should be removed
exhaust, exhaust fumes, fumes
gases ejected from an engine as waste products
body waste, excrement, excreta, excretion, excretory product
waste matter (as urine or sweat but especially feces) discharged from the body
crud, filth, skank
any substance considered disgustingly foul or unpleasant
sewage, sewerage
waste matter carried away in sewers or drains
effluent, sewer water, wastewater
water mixed with waste matter
food waste, garbage, refuse, scraps
food that is discarded (as from a kitchen)
waste matter that contaminates the water or air or soil
rubbish, scrap, trash
worthless material that is to be disposed of
(usually plural) waste water from a kitchen or bathroom or chamber pot that has to be emptied by hand
toxic industrial waste, toxic waste
poisonous waste materials; can cause injury (especially by chemical means)
DDT, dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane
an insecticide that is also toxic to animals and humans; banned in the United States since 1972
CFC, chlorofluorocarbon
a fluorocarbon with chlorine; formerly used as a refrigerant and as a propellant in aerosol cans
a compound in which the hydrogen atoms of a hydrocarbon have been replaced by bromine and other halogen atoms; very stable; used in fire extinguishers although it is thought to release bromine that depletes the ozone layer
nitrogen oxide
any of several oxides of nitrogen formed by the action of nitric acid on oxidizable materials; present in car exhausts
BM, dejection, faecal matter, faeces, fecal matter, feces, ordure, stool
solid excretory product evacuated from the bowels
excreta (especially of insects)
cylindrical mass of earth voided by a burrowing earthworm or lugworm
human waste
the body wastes of human beings
barf, puke, vomit, vomitus
the matter ejected in vomiting
scrap metal
discarded metal suitable for reprocessing
debris, detritus, dust, junk, rubble
the remains of something that has been destroyed or broken up
rubbish carelessly dropped or left about (especially in public places)
the excrement of sea birds; used as fertilizer
sulfur dioxide, sulphur dioxide
a colorless toxic gas (SO2) that occurs in the gases from volcanoes; used in many manufacturing processes and present in industrial emissions; causes acid rain
Type of:
material, stuff
the tangible substance that goes into the makeup of a physical object

n useless or profitless activity; using or expending or consuming thoughtlessly or carelessly

“if the effort brings no compensating gain it is a waste
dissipation, wastefulness
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work of little or no value done merely to look busy
waste of effort, waste of energy
a useless effort
waste of material
a useless consumption of material
waste of money
money spent for inadequate return
waste of time
the devotion of time to a useless activity
extravagance, high life, highlife, lavishness, prodigality
excessive spending
spending resources lavishly and wastefully
prodigious squandering (usually by a government)
Type of:
any specific behavior

n (law) reduction in the value of an estate caused by act or neglect

permissive waste
Type of:
act, deed, human action, human activity
something that people do or cause to happen

v get rid of

“We waste the dirty water by channeling it into the sewer”
Type of:
cast aside, cast away, cast out, chuck out, discard, dispose, fling, put away, throw away, throw out, toss, toss away, toss out
throw or cast away

v run off as waste

“The water wastes back into the ocean”
run off
Type of:
course, feed, flow, run
move along, of liquids

v lose vigor, health, or flesh, as through grief

languish, pine away
Type of:
become weaker

v become physically weaker

“Political prisoners are wasting away in many prisons all over the world”
gangrene, mortify, necrose, sphacelate
undergo necrosis
Type of:
degenerate, deteriorate, devolve, drop
grow worse

v cause to grow thin or weak

emaciate, macerate
Type of:
debilitate, drain, enfeeble
make weak

v cause extensive destruction or ruin utterly

desolate, devastate, lay waste to, ravage, scourge
reduce to ruins
Type of:
destroy, ruin
destroy completely; damage irreparably

v get rid of (someone who may be a threat) by killing

do in, knock off, liquidate, neutralise, neutralize
Type of:
cause to die; put to death, usually intentionally or knowingly

n an uninhabited wilderness that is worthless for cultivation

“the trackless wastes of the desert”
barren, wasteland
heath, heathland
a tract of level wasteland; uncultivated land with sandy soil and scrubby vegetation
Type of:
wild, wilderness
a wild and uninhabited area left in its natural condition

adj located in a dismal or remote area; desolate

waste places”
godforsaken, wild
unfavorable to life or growth

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