English Language & Usage Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for linguists, etymologists, and serious English language enthusiasts. Join them; it only takes a minute:

Sign up
Here's how it works:
  1. Anybody can ask a question
  2. Anybody can answer
  3. The best answers are voted up and rise to the top

I understand that when you waive something you forego it or give it up. e.g.

I waive my [right to] free coffee.

I also understand that a waiver is a document stating that you waive your rights to something, but I read the phase waive off and I don't quite understand it.

The context was

personA: Live slugs!

personB: Waive off! Waive off! This is just a practice run!

I see that waive off means stop, or go away or something like that but I can't exactly put a specific meaning to it.

What does waive off mean?

share|improve this question
I think we need more context - live slugs? Was this a Monty Python skit? :) – John C Sep 11 '11 at 14:48
@John C - Sadly this is all the context I have. – Matt E. Эллен Sep 11 '11 at 14:52
up vote 14 down vote accepted

The expression being used is wave off, not waive off.

This website from the Indianapolis Speedway explains it quite well:

Wave off – The process by which a team forfeits a qualification attempt. A driver or team can “wave off” an attempt any time before the start of the fourth and final lap in the attempt. If the run is waved off before the car takes the green flag, it does not count as one of the three allowed attempts for that car. Once the green flag is waved to start the attempt, the run counts as one attempt, even if it’s waved off.

If the context isn't auto racing (I assume it's not—what are live slugs doing in an auto race?), it's borrowed from auto racing, and has the same meaning.

share|improve this answer
this has credence – Thursagen Aug 26 '11 at 12:20
I think this makes most sense. – Matt E. Эллен Aug 26 '11 at 14:38
This is also the phrase used by the military when instructing a fighter pilot to abort a landing attempt, according to the definitive source of all Navy slang (Top Gun). – Kit Z. Fox Aug 26 '11 at 23:01
@Peter Shor: "what are live slugs doing in an auto race?" en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Snail_racing – Mechanical snail May 30 '12 at 9:32

I believe the origin of the phrase was in aircraft carriers, which have (or at least had) a crewman standing by when a plane came in to land, with a pair of signalling bats. One signal meant "lose height", another "cut power", and so on. If, however, the pilot was coming in far too fast (or the wheels had not extended properly), the batsman literally "waved the pilot off" the deck, and he went round again.

share|improve this answer
@Peter: I've seen nothing in anything that's been posted here that gives credence to the assertion that the racing usage of the term pre-dates the military usage of the term. Ultimately, both answers are correct, and both answer the original question adequately. – Toby Sep 11 '11 at 13:56

From Urban Dictionary:

When someone or something gets ignored or disregarded.

share|improve this answer

I believe this is slang, and Urban Dictionary does give a definition, although I don't know how much weight can be placed on this, but anyway, waive off means:

When someone or something gets ignored or disregarded.

This seems to make sense when applied in the context given, where Person A gives some disheartening information, but Person b is shouting for the others to ignore what Person A is saying, as it is "just a practice run", and therefore, nothing to panic about.

share|improve this answer

Waive off means "to stop or to go away". For example,

Please adjust his leaves and waive off the notice period.

share|improve this answer
Err...no it doesn't. To waive someone's notice period means to forego it, not to require them to work it. – Brian Hooper Mar 21 '14 at 6:13
Waive and wave are almost as frequently confused as forego and forgo. – Sven Yargs Mar 21 '14 at 16:28

protected by tchrist Feb 22 '15 at 0:01

Thank you for your interest in this question. Because it has attracted low-quality or spam answers that had to be removed, posting an answer now requires 10 reputation on this site (the association bonus does not count).

Would you like to answer one of these unanswered questions instead?

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.