The term “waive” is common in professional and legal terminology. Professional athletes may have waivers attached to their contracts every season. Suspects waive their rights to legal representation. Even regular citizens sign waivers before hopping on planes and theme parks.

But does waive mean cancel? Read on as we define what it means to waive something, as well as the significance of waivers in both professional settings and private life.

When Does Waive Mean Cancel?

According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, waive means “to relinquish something, such as a legal right voluntarily.” This definition is true, but in a court of law and/or when using legal terms, waiving your rights could mean different things depending on the agreement and the institution.

For example, if you waive your right to an attorney, that means you have canceled your entitlement to hire a legal representation of your choice. When you hop on a skydiving tour with your friends, you have to sign a release of liability form to relinquish your rights to sue the skydiving company. 


More so, photographers and artists can waive their rights to ownership and compensation for their work if they sign it off to a stock photo company or publishing house. This means that you will not gain one cent of the proceeds. 

In the movie industry, studios sign property release agreements in order to use someone’s space or property to shoot a film. This contract is a complete cancellation of the homeowner’s or property owner’s rights to sue if anything goes wrong during the shoot.

In addition, parents can cancel their guardianship of a child if they waive their parental rights. Once the court approves this waiver, the child’s protection is no longer the biological parents’ responsibility. 

Another instance where waive can mean cancel is in the military. If the recruitment office approves your waiver request, that means they’ve withdrawn anything that would otherwise disqualify your candidacy — you can now head to boot camp.

When Does Waive Not Mean Cancel? 

Waivers do not abdicate you of responsibility, not all the time, at least. Let’s go through scenarios where waiving something means deferral rather than complete cancellation.

  • Medical waivers — the Medicaid waiver is a typical waiver that grants only partial cancellation. This state-sponsored deferral lowers the eligibility requirements for Medicaid in order to allow more people access. Apart from that, the Medicaid waiver is only applicable for specific diagnoses and in certain states.
  • Academic waivers — fee waivers can be full or partial, depending on the institution. Schools can waive your application fee but still require you to pay all or part of the entire tuition fee later. Courts can also waive fees for civil suits if the defendant cannot foot the bill.
  • Financial payment waivers — a Guaranteed Asset Protection waiver is a debt cancellation agreement that only absolves you from completing the remaining payment for your destroyed car (or asset). Credit card companies can also waive some of your debt if repaying the entire fee will leave you insolvent.

Use Enforceable Online Waivers 

You now know the difference between waiving your rights and deferring them partially. To ensure your waivers meet the conditions of legality, hire a lawyer to go through the fine print. You also need to sign your waivers using a secure, legally-binding waiver management platform.

Companies and individuals rely on PandaDoc Waivers for managing their waivers because it is free, legal, and secure. With PandaDoc Waivers, you can sign and fill out your waiver form within minutes. Just grab your laptop, upload the file, and make changes instantly.