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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 straggler
Historical Examples
  • May your straggler justify your odd fancy this time, brother!

  • Only the straggler or deserter has as few marks as you to show.

    The Long Roll Mary Johnston
  • The last swift I observed was about the 21st August; it was a straggler.

  • He whistled and sounded his horn in vain; the straggler paid no attention to the summons.

  • Some thought a straggler had used it as a lodging, and set it on fire in lighting his pipe.

    Freaks of Fortune Oliver Optic
  • He entered cautiously, fearing a straggler had sought shelter there.

    Minnie's Pet Dog Madeline Leslie
  • It is recorded as a straggler to the Caroline and Mariana islands.

  • It is a straggler to Oceania and has not been recorded in the Hawaiian Islands.

  • Upward they spring, one and all; not one idler or straggler remains behind.

    The Sea Jules Michelet
  • My own servant, who had lost me in the crowd, was arrested as a straggler.

    A Company of Tanks W. H. L. Watson
British Dictionary definitions for straggler


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 straggler



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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