Updated: 12/10/2023 by Computer Hope

Wait may refer to any of the following:

Person asleep waiting for their computer.

1. In general, wait or waiting is the time your computer or you wait for something to complete. For example, when downloading a large file, you have to wait for the download to complete before using it. If you're streaming something, which is still downloading, you don't need to wait or only wait for a few seconds before the streaming audio or video begins to play.


When a computer is waiting, it's commonly called a wait state.

2. On Unix-like operating systems, wait is a shell command that waits for a given process to complete and then returns its exit status. See our wait command page for further information.

3. With programming, when you want your program or script to wait a few seconds, minutes, or hours, it's often done with a sleep command or function. See our sleep page for further help.

Buffer, Delay, Lag, Queue, Sleep, Slow, Time, Wait cursor, Wait state, Zero wait state