Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • n. A light crisp battercake baked in a waffle iron.
  • intransitive v. To speak or write evasively.
  • transitive v. To speak, write, or act evasively about.
  • n. Evasive or vague speech or writing.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. A flat pastry pressed with a grid pattern.
  • n. A potato waffle, a savoury flat potato cake with the same kind of grid pattern.
  • v. To smash.
  • n. Speech or writing that is vague, pretentious or evasive.
  • v. To move in a side-to-side motion and descend (lose altitude) before landing. Cf wiffle, whiffle.
  • v. To speak or write vaguely and evasively.
  • v. To speak or write at length without any clear point or aim.
  • v. To vacillate.
  • v. To rotate (one's hand) back and forth in a gesture of vacillation or ambivalence.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. A thin cake baked and then rolled; a wafer.
  • n. A soft indented cake cooked in a waffle iron.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. A particular kind of batter cake baked in waffle-irons and served hot.
  • To wave; fluctuate.
  • To bark incessantly.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • n. pancake batter baked in a waffle iron
  • v. pause or hold back in uncertainty or unwillingness

Etymologies

Dutch wafel, from Middle Dutch wāfel.
Probably frequentative of obsolete waff, to yelp, probably of imitative origin.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
The Dutch word wafel was adopted into English in the 1700s. The Dutch word, in turn, derives from the Middle Low German wāfel (modern German Waffel), which was borrowed into Middle English around 1377 as wafer, and which is also the source of the French gaufre. Wāfel, in turn, derives from the Old High German waba, wabo (modern German Wabe), meaning honeycomb and ultimately related to the word weave. The verb sense "to smash" derives from the manner in which waffle-batter is smashed into its shape between the two halves of a waffle iron, and the sense "to press a waffle pattern into" derives from the pattern the waffle-iron-halves impart. (Wiktionary)
From the Scots waffle, "to waver, to flutter", a variation of the Scots waff ("to flutter, to wave", related to wave), with the suffix -le added. Alternatively, perhaps derived from waff, an imitation of a dog's (unintelligible and thus meaningless) yelp (cf woof). Also note Old English wæflian ("to talk foolishly"). (Wiktionary)

Examples

Comments

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  • I agree. Nor, if I had a post, would I leave it in Afghanistan.

    January 28, 2009

  • But, but, but... why would anyone leave their waffles behind? I mean, waffles are delicious; they're the first thing I packed when I left the Falkland Islands.

    Etymological debate, what?

    January 28, 2009

  • "AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL HELPS TORTURE VICTIMS IN AFGHANISTAN"

    January 28, 2009

  • That's way better than "SOLDIERS ABANDON POSTS IN AFGHANISTAN."

    January 28, 2009

  • No, you're not the only one. But I must admit, I just assumed* it meant that some British people left their waffles there.

    *not really.

    January 28, 2009

  • Oh, ha ha ha!

    January 28, 2009

  • "BRITISH LEFT WAFFLES ON FALKLANDS"

    Am I the only one that had a laugh at this headline?

    January 28, 2009

  • Sure thing, reesetee!

    January 28, 2009

  • I love that in this discussion, someone can use the words "prolix" and "windbag" in the same sentence. Thanks, kewpid. :-)

    January 28, 2009

  • It seems as if nobody is wrong in this debate. From the Etymological Dictionary online:

    waffle (v.)
    1698, "to yelp, bark," frequentative of waff "to yelp" (1610); possibly of imitative origin. Figurative sense of "talk foolishly" (1701) led to that of "vacillate, equivocate" (1803), originally a Scottish and northern Eng. usage.

    January 28, 2009

  • My BrE puts me 100% in camp Bilby.

    January 28, 2009

  • I subscribe to bilby's definition. To waffle on is to be prolix or a windbag.

    January 28, 2009

  • How about the noun corresponding to the 'blather inconsequentially' sense? Writing advice for undergrads. in my Dept. (Durham, U.K.) tells them to avoid 'waffle: a waste of your time and the reader's'; I'd naturally read that as waffling in the sense of going on and on pointlessly.

    January 27, 2009

  • Note that it's usually in the phrasal form, waffle on.

    Or with strawberries.

    January 27, 2009

  • I hereby confess I'm less of a global citizen than I wished. I hadn't heard bilby's definition either.

    (Though, let it be said, that isn't entirely unusual.)

    And let's just remember that waffles are really good. Mmm... buttery syrupy goodness... and then a good blood-sugar crash.

    January 27, 2009

  • Ladies and gentlemen, I think what we have here is a cultural divide. Here in the US, the word is commonly understood to have the meaning that rolig described (dithering, repeatedly changing one's mind, failing to take a steady stance on an issue). Clinton was one famous target of this word; another was John Kerry, who was accused of both "waffling" and "flip-flopping".

    I also want to say that the "be verbose" meaning is completely unknown here -- certainly it's unknown to me -- but before I make such a strong statement, I need some unscientific confirmation from my fellow American Wordies.

    Help me out, guys. Do you find bilby's definition as alien as I do?

    (Edit: while I was typing this, sionnach came along and defended both meanings, which leads me to suspect that he's not merely a gentleman, but also a world traveler and a global citizen.)

    January 27, 2009

  • I agree with rolig: though I have heard it used in the sense of blathering on, or rambling, the primary meaning I associate with it is dithering - a failure to take a firm position on an issue. It seems to me that the (apocryphal) newspaper headline

    "BRITISH LEFT WAFFLES ON FALKLANDS"

    is more consistent with the 'dithering' sense.

    January 27, 2009

  • The 1989 O.E.D. says the dither meaning is 'orig. Sc. and north. dial. Now colloq. or non-Standard.' Judging by Rolig's comment, maybe it's made a comeback since, though the only new addition from 1993 is a new sense: 'Of an aircraft or motor vehicle: to cruise along in a leisurely manner, usu. at low speed. colloq. (orig. R.A.F.).'

    The 'talk verbosely and inconsequentially' sense is attested from 1701 and treated as current; it's the sense I'm familiar with too.

    January 27, 2009

  • I'm with you b, that's how I would use it as well.
    Rolig, I would say it is much the same as '"to ramble".

    January 27, 2009

  • The meaning of waffle as a verb that I am most familiar with is "to waver, keep changing one's mind," which sort of fits Weirdnet's definition. The verb waffle has become part of the US political jargon; candidates are fond of accusing their opponents of "waffling" on certain issues – which often refers to their opponent taking a more nuanced position on a complex and controversial subject rather than simply making an absolute ideological pronouncement. Bill Clinton during his 1992 presidential campaign was regularly accused of waffling on the issues, which led to Gary Trudeau using a floating, wobbly waffle (with various amounts of butter on it) as his cartoon icon for Bill Clinton in the Doonesbury comic strip.

    Bilby, I'm not familiar with the phrase "to waffle on" in the sense of "to be verbose". Is this the same as saying "to ramble on" – to talk on and on without making a lot of sense?

    January 27, 2009

  • It's sad :-(

    I'm not familiar with the verbal definition given by WeirdNet. It also doesn't list the verbal use I hear quite commonly, ie. to waffle on - to be verbose, to palaver.

    January 27, 2009

  • That poem makes me sad, and at the same time I want to crack their heads together and tell them to make up.

    January 27, 2009


  • In four years of marriage
    we never made a waffle
    and now we're fighting about the waffle iron.


    - Barrett Warner, The Waffle Iron.

    January 27, 2009

  • Wow! That's about 500 more than there are Waffle Houses. Good show!!

    October 19, 2008

  • This is my 2000th word on Wordie.

    October 11, 2008

  • Penny Arcade (03/28/08):

    "Can't you hear them? Can't you hear the waffles?"

    May 14, 2008

  • "I like a waffle because a waffle is like a pancake with a syrup trap. A waffle says to the syrup, 'Hold on now. You ain't goin' anywhere. Don't even think about tryin' to creep down the sides. Just rest in these squares! When one square is full, move onto the next one. When you hit the butter, split up!!'"
    --Mitch Hedberg

    April 6, 2008

  • "Where's my waffles?!" - Cotton Hill from the animated series, King Of The Hill

    December 1, 2007

  • In a world without W...
    "A fine word like 'waffle'
    Would turn out just 'affle.'
    Oh, double-u's grand as can beeeee..."
    --Bert (of Sesame Street)

    Every time I see this word, I want to eat a waffle.

    October 28, 2007