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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. 2017.
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Examples from the Web for stragglers
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • Some stragglers were captured, but otherwise there was no definite result except that the siege was raised.

    Campfire and Battlefield Rossiter Johnson
  • Here and there subsidiary bands were formed to "clean up the stragglers."

  • Every hour had brought in stragglers: horse, foot, fugitives from the country-side, each bearing his tale of slaughter.

    The Lion's Brood Duffield Osborne
  • While last of all, as if to guide the stragglers in the weary road, come Owd Bob.

    Bob, Son of Battle Alfred Ollivant
  • He sat for hours upon the battlements watching for the first stragglers of the retreat.

    Vayenne Percy Brebner
  • They fell in with the stragglers of the Yaqui crowd and started to fight.

    Across the Mesa Jarvis Hall
British Dictionary definitions for stragglers


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 stragglers



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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