(Old Eng.). Watchman.
1 Musicians in medieval Eng. who acted as town watchmen, marking the hours of the night by sounding instr. By 16th cent. they formed town bands, each having its ‘signature‐tune’, thus London Waits, Chester Waits, etc. Some waits were renowned for singing, and this originated application of term to groups who sang hymns and carols in the streets at Christmas.
2 Old Eng. name for shawm, much used by waits. Other name for shawm was wayte‐pipe.
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