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[dil-uh-tawr-ee, -tohr-ee] /ˈdɪl əˌtɔr i, -ˌtoʊr i/
tending to delay or procrastinate; slow; tardy.
intended to cause delay, gain time, or defer decision:
a dilatory strategy.
Origin of dilatory
1250-1300; Middle English (< Anglo-French) < Latin dīlātōrius, equivalent to dīlā-, suppletive stem of differre to postpone (see differ) + -tōrius -tory1
Related forms
dilatorily, adverb
dilatoriness, noun
undilatorily, adverb
undilatory, adjective Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for dilatory
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • The dilatory sportsman robs the pack of finding and himself of profit.

    The Sportsman Xenophon
  • The dilatory habits of a decade were not so readily unlearned.

    Union and Democracy

    Allen Johnson
  • I had received more than a dilatory donkey on the road to the fair!

  • In no other way can his dilatory proceedings be accounted for.

    The Campaign of Trenton 1776-77 Samuel Adams Drake
  • The dilatory one was old Kelly; and him Forsythe shot through the heart.

    The Wreck of the Titan Morgan Robertson
  • I never had such a dilatory damsel to make my first tent breakfast!

    Betty Leicester Sarah Orne Jewett
  • General Sheridan's method of operation could hardly be held as dilatory.

    The County Regiment Dudley Landon Vaill
  • He had been dilatory but now he intended to get down to business.

    The Lady Doc

    Caroline Lockhart
  • It is in reality a most exhausting, dilatory, and humiliating exercise.


    Ian Hay
British Dictionary definitions for dilatory


/ˈdɪlətərɪ; -trɪ/
tending or inclined to delay or waste time
intended or designed to waste time or defer action
Derived Forms
dilatorily, adverb
dilatoriness, noun
Word Origin
C15: from Late Latin dīlātōrius inclined to delay, from differre to postpone; see differ
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for dilatory

late 15c., from Late Latin dilatorius, from dilator "procrastinator," from dilatus, serving as past participle of differe "delay" (see defer).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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