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Can you explain differences:

1a) Hadn't we better wait up for the slower ones? 
                     vs.
1b) Hadn't we better wait for the slower ones?


2a) The apple fell from the tree.
                     vs.
2a) The apple fell down from the tree.
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thanks, bud due to lack of reputation i can't vote up your answer. –  Baha Nov 2 '10 at 0:29
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2 Answers 2

up vote 1 down vote accepted

1) I believe the correct usage of wait up applies to the type of scenario where you don't lie down to sleep, but instead wait up for someone to come home. It has just moved into a more general usage to mean the same as wait.

"Don't wait up for me, sweetie - I'll be working late tonight"

2) An apple cannot fall up from a tree, so using fell down is a stylistic choice for a writer/speaker. There is no real difference between fell from a tree and fell down from a tree.

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1) Evidence from the OED: definition 7f of wait: to wait up: to defer going to bed in expectation of the arrival of some one. –  Ophiuroid Nov 1 '10 at 16:52
    
But I doubt "wait up" was in opposition to lying down -- if we want to read anything into it beyond "English is silly with prepositions," I'd go with the interpretation of "up" meaning "awake". –  Ophiuroid Nov 1 '10 at 16:52
    
@Ophiuroid Perhaps. I'm not convinced though - it seems to be the simplest explanation. I'm willing to be presuaded otherwise. ;) –  Chris Dwyer Nov 1 '10 at 17:43
    
thanks, bud due to lack of reputation i can't vote up your answer. –  Baha Nov 2 '10 at 0:29
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While "wait up" has the "kid/spouse being out late" context of Chris Dwyer's answer, there's another one that appears in Baha's question.

The phrases "wait up," "slow up," and "hold up" are often used as an instruction to a person/group of people to stop/slow/wait for others. I haven't heard it used quite as

Hadn't we better wait up for the slower ones?

as in the original question, but have said

Wait up! We're missing Theresa.

many times. (And yes, it's always Theresa.)

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Agree, it's always Theresa. I took the exact sentence from the dictionary: lingvo.yandex.ru/wait%20up –  Baha Nov 2 '10 at 2:30
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