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[woo l-gath-er-ing] /ˈwʊlˌgæð ər ɪŋ/
indulgence in idle fancies and in daydreaming; absentmindedness:
His woolgathering was a handicap in school.
gathering of the tufts of wool shed by sheep and caught on bushes.
Origin of woolgathering
First recorded in 1545-55; wool + gathering


[woo l-gath-er] /ˈwʊlˌgæð ər/
verb (used without object)
to engage in woolgathering.
First recorded in 1840-50; by back formation from woolgathering
Related forms
woolgatherer, noun Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for woolgathering
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • Really, God thought with annoyance, this woolgathering—at such a moment!

    The Worshippers Damon Francis Knight
  • woolgathering, Ben had missed some remark about Artemis' rigging.

    Wilderness of Spring Edgar Pangborn
  • Such strange alleys do my thoughts run along when I am woolgathering in the field.

    Tell England Ernest Raymond
  • In a woolgathering way, the animal acknowledged Reuben's feet, but had no time for them.

    Wilderness of Spring Edgar Pangborn
  • Mrs. Ferrall's wits returned nimbly from woolgathering, and she shot a startled, inquiring glance at the girl beside her.

    The Fighting Chance Robert W. Chambers
  • I trust that your good man here is not jealous, for beauty, you well do ken, ever sends the wits of a Douglas woolgathering.

    The Black Douglas S. R. Crockett
British Dictionary definitions for woolgathering


idle or absent-minded indulgence in fantasy; daydreaming
Derived Forms
woolgatherer, noun
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 woolgathering

1550s, "indulging in wandering fancies and purposeless thinking," from the literal meaning "gathering fragments of wool torn from sheep by bushes, etc." (see wool + gather).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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