waiting game

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  • (file)


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.

Usage notes[edit]

  • Often preceded by the verb play.