verb (used without object), daw·dled, daw·dling.

to waste time; idle; trifle; loiter: Stop dawdling and help me with these packages!
to move slowly, languidly, or dilatorily; saunter.

verb (used with object), daw·dled, daw·dling.

to waste (time) by or as if by trifling (usually followed by away): He dawdled away the whole morning.

Origin of dawdle

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

Synonyms for dawdle

1, 2. See loiter. 3. fritter, putter, idle, trifle.
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for dawdling

Historical Examples of dawdling

  • The man who has a habit of dawdling or listlessness will show it in everything he does.

    How to Succeed

    Orison Swett Marden

  • The six were dawdling away our time one fine Sunday in Lynhurst Park.

    Aladdin & Co.

    Herbert Quick

  • They had been dawdling over the dishes, and their eyes had frequently met.

    Sister Carrie

    Theodore Dreiser

  • Either you must conquer your habit of dawdling,” he said, “or it will conquer you.

    Parkhurst Boys

    Talbot Baines Reed

  • How soon I again fell a victim to dawdling the sequel will show.

    Parkhurst Boys

    Talbot Baines Reed

British Dictionary definitions for dawdling



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

Word Origin for dawdle

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 dawdling



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.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper