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verb (used without object), daw·dled, daw·dling.
  1. to waste time; idle; trifle; loiter: Stop dawdling and help me with these packages!
  2. to move slowly, languidly, or dilatorily; saunter.
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verb (used with object), daw·dled, daw·dling.
  1. to waste (time) by or as if by trifling (usually followed by away): He dawdled away the whole morning.
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Origin of dawdle

First recorded in 1650–60; variant of daddle to toddle
Related formsdaw·dler, noundaw·dling·ly, adverb


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1, 2. See loiter. 3. fritter, putter, idle, trifle.
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

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Examples from the Web for dawdle

Contemporary Examples

Historical Examples

  • They go from the school-room to the rum saloons, and dawdle away the rest of the day.

  • And they did not dawdle; the poor old woman was packed in, in the time one takes to sneeze.


    Emile Zola

  • We did not dawdle over his affairs, nor did we shrink from any work to which he challenged us.



  • Easy for sleepers to dawdle with words and say carelessly life is this, life is that.

    Erik Dorn

    Ben Hecht

  • If we succeeded in getting what we had come after there would be plenty of time to dawdle.

    The Pirate of Panama

    William MacLeod Raine

British Dictionary definitions for dawdle


  1. (intr) to be slow or lag behind
  2. (when tr, often foll by away) to waste (time); trifle
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Derived Formsdawdler, noundawdlingly, adverb

Word Origin

C17: of uncertain origin
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

Word Origin and History for dawdle


1650s, perhaps a variant of daddle "to walk unsteadily." Perhaps influenced by daw, because the bird was regarded as sluggish and silly. Not in general use until c.1775. Related: Dawdled; dawdling.

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper