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At the clinic I was directed to the “subwait area” and left to ponder my fate. I did wonder whether this should be sub-wait and how fully portable “sub” has become as a preposition and/or prefix, when attached to a Germanic-rooted word. What other words are there where “sub” is used as an English word, apart from phrases like “sub judice” and “sub” as a short form of “substitute” eg in sport “he was subbed off”?

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Subwait , sub-wait and sub wait all seem to be used, either for an area where you wait for test results, or small waiting areas away from the main one. I thought it was a purely American term, but I've just found it used on the website of an NHS hospital in Wales (and on a closer look, there are quite a few British instances, at Guy's and St Thomas'for example).

This is from the Gwent Healthcare NHS Trust:

"Patients book in at a central reception desk where they are given a numbered ticket, all patients wait in one area until they are called through to the next "sub wait" area of the speciality they are waiting for. This ensures confidentiality as the announcement states only a number and an area. Finally they are then called from the sub wait area to a consulting room."

What do you mean 'what other words' - I'm confused, as sub in subwait is surely a prefix, differentiating various subwait areas from the main waiting area, and there must be hundreds of words with sub as a prefix - More Words list 1044 words starting with sub, mainly as a prefix: submarine, subdominant, subeditor etc.

But I presume that's not what you mean, even though I would say 'subwait area' falls into the same category. So do you mean simply as one word?

"Can you give me a sub" or "Can you sub me" - give me an advance on my wages

Or is it that you felt it was mainly limited to use in latinate words, such as subatomic? So how about these (all listed at More Words) - origins according to Online Etymology:

subgoal - goal is 'of uncertain origin'
subbreed - breed is from OE
subclan - clan is from Gaelic
subcooler - cool is from OE
subfield - field from OE

So the answer to your question is probably lots. And as to your wondering, I don't think the derivation of prefixes and suffixes matters much: they quickly get taken up for words with all sorts of derivations. As early as the 16th century, people were adding -ize (Latin, taken from Greek) suffixes to all manner of verbs already established in English, and not just those that had come from Latin. And think how 'pre' and 'post' are used - 'precook, pre-wedding jitters, postgraduate' (graduate may have come from medieval Latin, but the word postgraduate is of American origin).

This is from the Online Etymology Dictionary entry on 'sub':

'The prefix is active in Modern English, sometimes meaning "subordinate" (as in subcontractor); "inferior" (17c., as in subhuman); "smaller" (18c.); "a part or division of" (c.1800, as in subcontinent).'

These words were all coined in English, not taken from another language. Its use in 'subwait area' doesn't seem to me that different (apart from the dropping of 'ing') , and would seem to match that in 'subcontinent'.

Warsaw Will June 25, 2014 @ 4:09PM

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@WW yes it hadn't quite dawned on me how ubiquitous 'sub' has become with words like "subway" and "sublet". It is indeed no longer just a Latin prefix, but an English one too, sometimes meaning 'under' and sometimes meaning subsidiary.
I guess these "new" words are coined because there is no better alternative - "subsidiary waiting area" would be quite a mouthful.
Curious how we say "undergraduate" but not "subgraduate" though.

jayles the unwoven June 25, 2014 @ 7:42PM

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But with any end-fasts, it should make the word clearer ... not muddl things. If I were told to go to a "sub waiting" room, I would hav to ask where I need to put in my order for the kind of sub I wanted and how long would I likely wait for it.

AnWulf July 11, 2014 @ 3:38PM

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@Anwulf I must own up - when I first saw 'sub-wait' I thought 'No, you cannot meld latin prefixes with Germanic roots'.
But perhaps the true ask here is what else can you come up with in its stead? An "under-wait" area? (as in "Please proceed to the underweight area") .

jayles the unwoven July 12, 2014 @ 12:27AM

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Well, since they're noting 'wait' as noun for 'waiting room' then think of how one would say, "Go to the small waiting room." ... There it it ... 'small-wait'; 'side-wait'; or my favorit ... wait-cove (along the lines of OE bedcofa 'bedroom').

AnWulf July 12, 2014 @ 6:29AM

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@Anwulf the subwait area is often just a few chairs in the corridor outside the doctor's room, like a forward waiting area, which saves the doctor wasting time trudging back to reception to find the next patient. I haven't seen it used outside medical contexts, although it is much the same in outlook as "gate lounge" at an airport.

jayles the unwoven July 12, 2014 @ 2:36PM

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Then is it too much troubl to say ... "Wait by the door?" Do folks truly need to be told that they can sit in the chairs by the door?

However, the qwik look that I did, showed that a subwait is only slight smaller than the waiting room. Look at fig. 4-138 ... It indeeds looks more like a wait-cove:

AnWulf July 21, 2014 @ 5:46PM

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@AnWulf The surgery in question used to be a couple of doctors in a rather homely converted detached house; now they have merged with others into a new clinic with a largish reception area and a fair walk to the subwait area - the first visit they escort you there in case you get lost. After all, there's a dozen consulting rooms, and other places for minor surgery and so on. I guess that's why they need the designation and signage 'subwait area'.
I suppose they could say 'go down the corridor, turn left and wait outside door number nine';
the old homey place was more personal was less impersonal though.

jayles the unwoven July 21, 2014 @ 8:45PM

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I gess my whole thought is that the word "subwait" is unneed unless it is an offshoot of a bigger waiting area ... thus the "sub-". A few chairs by a door isn't truly a waiting area as a waiting spot but then the name "subwait" is not only not needed but not fitting either.

If the "subwait" is indeed a smaller waiting room off to the side of the main waiting room ... or nearby ... then I still like "wait-cove" as a better. "Subwait" truly doesn't mean much to me ... again, it sounds like a place to wait for my sub sandwich or, if I were a sailor, a slip for a submarine.

AnWulf July 22, 2014 @ 10:28AM

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