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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 stragglers
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • No horse that the stragglers have stolen can overtake Gypsy.

  • First came four horses, well bunched; after them the stragglers.

    Old Man Curry

    Charles E. (Charles Emmett) Van Loan
  • Mrs. Tidditt brought up the rear, marshaling the stragglers, as it were.

    Fair Harbor

    Joseph Crosby Lincoln
  • Kendrick noted, with sudden uneasiness, that there were stragglers.

    Fair Harbor

    Joseph Crosby Lincoln
  • The two or three stragglers who met the minister carried lanterns.

    Keziah Coffin Joseph C. Lincoln
  • But it soon became clear that the halt was to the end that the stragglers might come up.

    Love-at-Arms Raphael Sabatini
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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