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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 straggling
Historical Examples
  • The offence of straggling is generally considered not serious.

    The Leopard Woman Stewart Edward White
  • A conjurer must have his time, like a straggling priest in the settlements.

    The Last of the Mohicans James Fenimore Cooper
  • It was tied with the greatest caution, and directed in a straggling hand.

    Tiverton Tales Alice Brown
  • It was a large house; but low and straggling; and unpretending in its exterior.

    Henry Dunbar M. E. Braddon
  • They were all signed in a strange, straggling hand, by the witness.

    The First Violin Jessie Fothergill
  • His grey hair was straggling into the puddle around his head.

    L'Assommoir Emile Zola
  • It was written in pencil in large and straggling characters.

    The Eternal City Hall Caine
  • His eyes were wash-blue, and his straggling mustache drooped at the corners.

  • But scarcely a mile from her ran a line of straggling brush.

    Oh, You Tex! William Macleod Raine
  • The lumbermen came and soon there was a straggling little village.

British Dictionary definitions for straggling


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 straggling



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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