Try Our Apps


90s Slang You Should Know


[loi-ter] /ˈlɔɪ tər/
verb (used without object)
to linger aimlessly or as if aimless in or about a place:
to loiter around the bus terminal.
to move in a slow, idle manner, making purposeless stops in the course of a trip, journey, errand, etc.:
to loiter on the way to work.
to waste time or dawdle over work:
He loiters over his homework until one in the morning.
verb (used with object)
to pass (time) in an idle or aimless manner (usually followed by away):
to loiter away the afternoon in daydreaming.
Origin of loiter
1300-50; Middle English loteren, loytren, perhaps < Middle Dutch loteren to stagger, totter; compare Dutch leuteren to dawdle
Related forms
loiterer, noun
loiteringly, adverb
1. Loiter, dally, dawdle, idle imply moving or acting slowly, stopping for unimportant reasons, and in general wasting time. To loiter is to linger aimlessly: to loiter outside a building. To dally is to loiter indecisively or to delay as if free from care or responsibility: to dally on the way home. To dawdle is to saunter, stopping often, and taking a great deal of time, or to fritter away time working in a halfhearted way: to dawdle over a task. To idle is to move slowly and aimlessly, or to spend a great deal of time doing nothing: to idle away the hours. 1–4. loaf. 2, 3. delay, tarry. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2017.
Cite This Source
Examples from the Web for loiter
Historical Examples
  • Surely this was no place to loiter in after the work was fairly accomplished.

  • As for those of us who remain, we will loiter as much as ever we please.

    The Friendly Road (AKA David Grayson) Ray Stannard Baker
  • One might sink down to rest on the benches beside the fountains, or loiter on the rustic bridges,—only, alas!

    The Story of a Life J. Breckenridge Ellis
  • Such then as loiter and live idly, are not good prelates, or ministers.

  • Messrs. Leadham and loiter, the publishers, were civil to her.

    The Way We Live Now Anthony Trollope
  • Now they might take their ease, now they might loiter in the gardens of the Loire.

  • I believe that is why Jim has a definite camping place in mind for each day and doesnt let us loiter much along the way.

  • It was the custom of the students to loiter in the parlor after dinner, gathering about in groups.

    Hester's Counterpart Jean K. Baird
  • True, the Indians and many of the coureurs de bois will loiter about until the last moment.

    A Little Girl in Old Quebec Amanda Millie Douglas
  • “You may rest assured that we shall not loiter in Norfolk,” said Mr. Berners.

    Cruel As The Grave Mrs. Emma D. E. N. Southworth
British Dictionary definitions for loiter


(intransitive) to stand or act aimlessly or idly
Derived Forms
loiterer, noun
loitering, noun, adjective
Word Origin
C14: perhaps from Middle Dutch löteren to wobble: perhaps related to Old English lūtian to lurk
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
Cite This Source
Word Origin and History for loiter

early 15c., "idle one's time, dawdle over work," from Middle Dutch loteren "be loose or erratic, shake, totter" like a loose tooth or a sail in a storm; in modern Dutch, leuteren "to delay, linger, loiter over one's work." Probably cognate with Old English lutian "lurk," and related to Old English loddere "beggar;" Old High German lotar "empty, vain," luzen "lurk;" German Lotterbube "vagabond, rascal," lauschen "eavesdrop;" Gothic luton "mislead;" Old English lyðre "base, bad, wicked." Related: Loitered; loitering.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
Cite This Source

Word of the Day

Difficulty index for loiter

Many English speakers likely know this word

Word Value for loiter

Scrabble Words With Friends

Nearby words for loiter