What’s The Correct Way To Write It: Waver vs Waiver


waver vs waiver

Grammar can be fascinating and confusing at the same time. As a writer or editor, you perhaps have noticed malapropism in the use of “waver” and “waiver.” You’ll first need to understand the difference if you intend to write perfect sentences. So, “waver vs waiver”, what’s the correct way to write and use it?

“Waver” and “waiver” are homophones. They sound the same and almost similar in writing. The tiny “I” set these words apart in spelling, meaning, and use. “Waiver” is the act of intentionally abandoning or renouncing something or an act, while “waver” showcases a position of being unsteady or uncertain.

It’s common for people to make mistakes when using homophones in a sentence. This article gives more information on “waver vs waiver” to help understand the difference and know how each of these words is used. That will help you stop making humorous utterances or wrong placement when phrasing sentences that require “waiver” or “waver.”

But before that, here’s a piece of history of “waver” and “waiver.”

How “Waver” and “Waiver” Came into Existence

people thinking looking uncertain

Waver emanates from its noun form “wave,” a noun that originated from the Old English verb “wafian,” which means wave using your hands. Wafian is the homophone of “wæfan,” another Old English word that means “to clothe.” Interestingly, it’s connected to another Old English word, “wefan,” translated it means “to weave.”

Now, here’s the interesting bit. Weaving involves an up and down motion, just like waving. Thus, the verb “waver” has sailed through the English language banks with logical perceptions meaning swaying loosely in back and forth motion. For instance,

  • The flag will waver in a gentle wind
  • His determination did not waver; he kept rehearsing the entire week.

The word “waiver” is a noun and originates from its verb “waive” derived from “waif,” a word used to signify “stray.” Waive originates from Anglo-French and seems to have become a modern world neologism. Thanks to the Middle English word “weiven,” which means rejecting someone or something in the old days of feud law. 

In modern English, waive indicates that a person will willingly or consciously refrain from using, doing, or taking action on something or someone even though they are entitled to by law. In essence, the person will relinquish their rights. For example,

  •  The credit card company decided to waive the annual fee.
  •  Had he not signed the waiver, it would have been a huge liability to the insurance company.

How One Word Turned Into Synonym of The Other

In the 19th century, both wave and waive, the founts of our words in subject, “waver” and “waiver” attained similar meanings. People used them to signify “disregard or dismiss.” Undeniably, homophony’s birth for the words “waver and waiver” started taking shape.

What is your opinion based on this context? The word “wave,” or you can say “waver,” is alleged to mean “a sign of refusal” and, at the same time, to signify “dismissal.” Can “waiver” and “waver” be used as a synonym? For a minute, let’s give it a profound thought!

The context to which you apply these words is critical. Remember, a waiver is used more often in the modern world when referring to legal matters (more on that later). The use of “waver” applies in the back and forth loose movement, or a state of hesitation, among other meanings. It all depends on the message you intend to relay.

Time to shed more light on this subject!

When to and How to Properly Use The Word “Waiver”

We now know that “waive” is deciding not to do or use something you are permitted or expected to. As a noun, “waiver” is a written document denoting or showing that a person has surrendered their right or obligation. When you sign a waiver, it means you have vowed that you won’t charge for something or someone even though you have the right. It is the act of relinquishing your legal rights or the declaration not to impose the legal rights entitled to you even though you could.

The word “waiver” has found its way mainly in legally binding scenarios that require you to relinquish your rights in favor of something or someone. You’ll have to decide voluntarily or in your own accord to relinquish or give up a claim or a right to the other party. The legal binding provision extends only to the specific parties mentioned in the contract. It is also enacted based on the legal interpretation and understanding of the clauses thereof. There are criteria applied by the court to resolve if the waiver is fitting or not. Remember, the court counsel must ensure adherence to constitutional rights.

Companies also do waiver some entitlement for the benefit of their customers. For instance, some car rental companies will request the renters to purchase a crash damage waiver. That means if the rental car gets damaged upon purchasing the CWD, the renter is not liable for all or some repairs and any expenses that may accumulate while the car is under repair.

waiver sign on blocks and blue notepad

Let’s Check Some Examples on How to Use “Waiver”

They include the following:

  • Did you know you can get a college application fee waiver if considered eligible?

This example means that the college will exempt you from paying the application fees if ascertained as a qualified candidate.

  • I had to sign a waiver to participate in the skydiving competition.

This example means that you are fully knowledgeable of the risks that come with skydiving, and you choose not to take legal action that comes with your decision.

  • I need a waiver to take this course because I don’t meet the required qualifications.

In this case, it means that you need the college or university to say that you don’t have to abide by the rule that demands candidates to have met the specific requirements. 

Remember, waivers are usually in writing, though there are scenarios where someone’s words can override the waiver. That happens mostly in written waivers that have a disclaimer. It’s always wise to read through a waiver and understand every detail before you sign.

When to and How to Properly Use The Word “Waver”

Waver is an English word used to describe an action, and that makes it a verb. It has various meanings. It can be used to imply a state of uncertainty, wobbling, swaying, trembling, hesitation, vacillation, or unsteady in making a decision. Ideally, the use depends on the situation and what you intend to communicate.

You can use this word in instances that leave you lost in choices. For example, when you have to compare multiple options to help make a verdict. Most of the time, you will scan your choices back and forth (waver). Or you get to a point when uncertain of what to think. A practical example is when you find your friends arguing about a very sensitive matter, and you don’t waver to get them into their senses. That means you intervene and help them start thinking sensibly.

You can also use “waver” metaphorically. For example, you could say, “his faith wavered.” It means his faith became less strong or shaken. Or you could say; “the company CEO had all the plans well set by the start of the year, with a clear direction of how the company should move to tap the new opportunities, but he’s now starting to waver.”

waver word in the dictionary

Let’s Check Some Examples on How to Use “Waver”

A few examples will help shed more clarity on the word waver.

  • If you waver when throwing your dart, you are likely going to lose.

It means, if you tremble when making your throw, chances are you will not score.

  • Even though John knew that Sonia did not love him, he didn’t waver to marry her.

In this sentence, waver is used to mean that he did not hesitate. So, John went on marrying Sonia regardless of knowing that she didn’t love him.

Let’s Clear The “Waver vs Waiver” Confusion

Can you now tell the difference between the word “waiver” and “waver”? The word “waiver” and “waver” may sound the same, but the difference is the spelling and meaning. For example, did you apply for a visa “waiver” or “waver”? You should be able to know the difference. If you have been keen enough, you can agree that it is a visa “waiver.”

Again, how would “waver and waiver” rank in terms of formality? It will be true to say that “waiver” is formal. If used to mean a document, it is primarily in a formal setting. “Waver” can be used anywhere, without sounding so formal. Many people prefer to use it in informal conversations and engagements.

Summary on “Waver vs Waiver”

“Waver” and “waiver” are homophones that share an interesting history. When applied in grammar, “waiver” finds its way in legal space or other instances that require you to renounce or abandon something. “Waver” use is broad and applies where there’s uncertainty or hesitation in doing things.

Knowing how to apply different words, especially homophones, makes you a grammar pro. The above-detailed facts with examples touching on “waver vs waiver” will help you make the right decision when confronted by a scenario where you need to use either or both words.

Shawn Manaher

Shawn Manaher is the founder and CEO of The Content Authority. He's one part content manager, one part writing ninja organizer, and two parts leader of top content creators. You don't even want to know what he calls pancakes.

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