‘Waste Time’: Definition, Meaning, and Examples

By Carly Forsaith, updated on November 16, 2022

Have you ever heard the idiom ‘waste time’ and were unsure what it meant? Look no further. This article will explain the meaning of the saying and how to use it in the correct context.

In short, ‘waste time’ means to do something pointless. The time you spend on it will be wasted, or in other words, lost and for nothing.

What Does ‘Waste Time’ Mean?

‘Waste Time’ Definition

The word ‘waste’ can be both a verb and a noun. In the context of ‘waste time,’ it is a verb.

The Verb ‘To Waste’

To waste something is to spend or use it carelessly. When used in its verb form, it refers to an action - the acting of wasting. For example:

Please don’t waste water by pouring it on the floor. Use it to water the plants.

Try to finish the food on your plate; I don’t like wasting it.

You’ve wasted your talent in that company. They never appreciated you.

The same definition applies to wasting time. When you waste time, it means you’re spending it on something that isn’t worth it.

The Noun ‘Waste’

The noun ‘waste’ refers to something that has been used carelessly. A noun is a naming clause that refers to a thing.

Waste is something that has been wasted.

I can’t believe they threw out the old computers. What a waste!

How do you dispose of nuclear waste?

We don’t need two couches in here; it’s a waste of space.

‘Waste’ Synonyms

There are many synonyms for ‘waste’ in English, which you can use to avoid repeating yourself. Here are some of those:

  • Procrastinate
  • Spitting in the wind
  • Misuse
  • Exhaust
  • Ruin
  • Squander

Variants for ‘Waste Time’

The expression can take on a number of other forms and functions. Read on to find out how.

Different Tenses

You can use different tenses with the verb ‘waste time.’ In fact, you can use all the different tenses in the English language.

You could use the present indefinite:

He likes to waste time.

The past indefinite:

We wasted a lot of time last week.

The future:

This project will waste a lot of valuable time.

The past participle:

It’s too late; the time’s already been wasted, and we’ll never get it back.

And so on. You get the picture!

Other Grammatical Forms for ‘Waste Time’

As well as being a verb, the saying can be turned into a noun or an adjective. You just need to modify it slightly.

‘Waste Time’ as a Noun

We already saw above that ‘waste’ can be both a verb and a noun. But what about ‘waste time’? Easy! To turn it into a noun, you say ‘time waster.’ For example:

I don’t want John on my team; he’s a ‘time waster.’

You could also say ‘waste of time.’ For example:

This project is a waste of time.

‘Waste Time’ as an Adjective

If you're looking for a good adjective to use instead of the verb form, then ‘time-wasting’ is your guy. Let’s take a look at a sentence example that uses the adjective ‘time-wasting’ to qualify a noun in the sentence.

Zoom calls are a great way to avoid overly long, time-wasting meetings.

Is it ‘Waste’ or ‘Waist’?

The word ‘waste’ is not to be confused with its homophone ‘waist.’ They may be pronounced the same (like borders/boarders or dying/dieing), but they have completely different meanings.

A ‘waist’ is a body part.

Other Things You Can Waste

So what else can you use, if not time? Well, many things, in fact. You could waste almost anything.

If something is being used carelessly or for no good reason, it is being wasted. Here are some examples of things you can waste:

  • Food
  • Water
  • Money
  • Paper
  • Land
  • Life
  • Stock
  • Energy
  • Opportunities
  • Resources

And so on!

‘Waste Time’ Example Sentences

Now that we’ve covered the definition and various possible formats let’s look at some example sentences.

Let’s not waste any more time on this; it’s time to move on.

Let's get going! We're wasting too much time at the office.

I’m not going to waste time watching that movie; I heard it isn’t great.

Don’t waste time talking to them; they’ll never understand.

Why waste time beating around the bush? I favor a more direct approach.

Final Thoughts on 'Waste Time'

As we've seen, 'waste time' can take on many different grammatical functions and tenses, but it only means one thing, and that is to spend time pointlessly. Time wasted is time lost and with no gain.

We cover this and many other idioms and figures of speech in our blog, so don't hesitate to check those out if you'd like to learn more.

We encourage you to share this article on Twitter and Facebook. Just click those two links - you'll see why.

It's important to share the news to spread the truth. Most people won't.

Written By:
Carly Forsaith
Carly Forsaith is one of the lead freelance writers for WritingTips.org. Carly is a copywriter who has been writing about the English language for over 3 years. Before that, she was a teacher in Thailand, helping people learn English as a second language. She is a total grammar nerd and spends her time spotting language errors on signs and on the internet.

Add new comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

WritingTips.org Newsletter
Receive information on
new articles posted, important topics, and tips.
Join Now
We won't send you spam. Unsubscribe at any time.