Waiting game

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waiting game (plural Waiting games)
  1. (idiomatic) A strategy or course of action in which one or more parties refrain from direct action until circumstances change in their favor.
    • 1896, Mark Twain, Personal Recollections of Joan of Arc, ch. 20:
      Inasmuch as nothing was really and rationally to be hoped for but a long continuance of the siege and wearying out of the English, they were naturally a little afraid of Joan's impetuous notions. He said: "You see, we are sure that the waiting game is the best."
    • 1913, P. G. Wodehouse, The Little Nugget, ch. 14:
      With Sam the only menace, I had been prepared to play a purely waiting game, watching proceedings from afar, ready to give my help if necessary.
    • 1914, Jack London, "The Siege of the Lancashire Queen," in Tales of the Fish Patrol:
      It was a waiting game, and whichever waited the longer was bound to win.
    • 2002, Tony Karon, "New Violence Deepens Sharon's Crisis," Time, 20 Feb.:
      Arafat and Sharon have both been playing a waiting game since the Israeli leader's election a year ago.


a wise passiveness, acceptance, contemplation, contemplative life, do-nothing policy, do-nothingism, do-nothingness, dormancy, endurance, forbearance, forbearing, forbearingness, fortitude, idleness, immobility, inaction, inactivity, indolence, indulgence, inertia, inertness, laissez-aller, laissez-faire, laissez-faireism, lenience, leniency, long-sufferance, long-suffering, longanimity, meditation, neutralism, neutrality, neutralness, noninvolvement, nonparticipation, nonresistance, nonviolence, nonviolent resistance, pacifism, paralysis, passive resistance, passive self-annihilation, passiveness, passivism, passivity, patience, patience of Job, patientness, perseverance, policy, procrastination, quiescence, quietism, self-control, stagnancy, stagnation, standpattism, stasis, stoicism, sufferance, sweet reasonableness, tolerance, toleration, vegetation, vita contemplativa, waiting it out, watching and waiting


  • Often preceded by the verb play.


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