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[strag-uh l] /ˈstræg əl/
verb (used without object), straggled, straggling.
to stray from the road, course, or line of march.
to wander about in a scattered fashion; ramble.
to spread or be spread in a scattered fashion or at irregular intervals:
The trees straggle over the countryside.
Origin of straggle
1350-1400; Middle English straglen < ?
Related forms
straggler, noun
stragglingly, adverb Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for straggle
Historical Examples
  • Complaining not, they straggle down to their bunks to change their clothes.

    The Book of Khalid Ameen Rihani
  • Any man that says I straggle is a liar—exceptin' the colonel, and he's mistaken.

    The Long Roll Mary Johnston
  • Do you suppose I'd go off with them, and let you straggle up home by yourself?

    A Jolly Fellowship Frank R. Stockton
  • Nothing was allowed to straggle, or to take up more than its share of room.

    "Some Say" Laura Elizabeth Howe Richards
  • Do they straggle along so loosely as to escape particular notice?

    The Foot-path Way Bradford Torrey
  • But if they straggle to pick flowers or hunt lizards, they are sometimes carried off.

    The Jungle Book Rudyard Kipling
  • We do not find any of our men inclined to straggle, after what they have seen.

    The Cruise of the Mary Rose William H. G. Kingston
  • But she was forced by her geographical position into a "straggle" policy.

  • But they would not have been allowed to straggle, if any enemy had been about.

  • There now, the boys and men are beginning to straggle off in pairs.

    Missy Miriam Coles Harris
British Dictionary definitions for straggle


verb (intransitive)
to go, come, or spread in a rambling or irregular way; stray
to linger behind or wander from a main line or part
Derived Forms
straggler, noun
straggling, adjective
stragglingly, adverb
straggly, adjective
Word Origin
C14: of uncertain origin; perhaps related to strake and stretch
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 straggle

c.1400, "to wander from the proper path, to rove from one's companions," perhaps from a Scandinavian source (cf. dialectal Norwegian stragla "to walk laboriously"), or a frequentative of straken "to move, go." Specifically of soldiers from 1520s. Related: Straggled; straggling.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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