drag one's feet/heels, to act with reluctance; delay: The committee is dragging its feet coming to a decision.

Origin of drag

1350–1400; 1920–25 for def 18; Middle English; both noun and v. probably < Middle Low German dragge grapnel, draggen to dredge, derivative of drag- draw; defs 29, 30, 38 obscurely related to other senses and perhaps a distinct word of independent orig.
Related formsout·drag, verb (used with object), out·dragged, out·drag·ging.

Synonyms for drag

Synonym study

1. See draw.




a plural of foot. Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

British Dictionary definitions for drag one's feet


verb drags, dragging or dragged

to pull or be pulled with force, esp along the ground or other surface
(tr; often foll by away or from) to persuade to come away (from something attractive or interesting)he couldn't drag himself away from the shop
to trail or cause to trail on the ground
(tr) to move (oneself, one's feet, etc) with effort or difficultyhe drags himself out of bed at dawn
to linger behind
(often foll by on or out) to prolong or be prolonged tediously or unnecessarilyhis talk dragged on for hours
(tr foll by out) to pass (time) in discomfort, poverty, unhappiness, etche dragged out his few remaining years
(when intr, usually foll by for) to search (the bed of a river, canal, etc) with a dragnet or hookthey dragged the river for the body
(tr foll by out or from) to crush (clods) or level (a soil surface) by use of a drag
(of hounds) to follow (a fox or its trail) to the place where it has been lying
(intr) slang to draw (on a cigarette, pipe, etc)
computing to move (data) from one place to another on the screen by manipulating a mouse with its button held down
drag anchor (of a vessel) to move away from its mooring because the anchor has failed to hold
drag one's feet or drag one's heels informal to act with deliberate slowness
drag someone's name in the mud to disgrace or defame someone


the act of dragging or the state of being dragged
an implement, such as a dragnet, dredge, etc, used for dragging
Also called: drag harrow a type of harrow consisting of heavy beams, often with spikes inserted, used to crush clods, level soil, or prepare seedbeds
a sporting coach with seats inside and out, usually drawn by four horses
a braking or retarding device, such as a metal piece fitted to the underside of the wheel of a horse-drawn vehicle
a person or thing that slows up progress
slow progress or movement
aeronautics the resistance to the motion of a body passing through a fluid, esp through air: applied to an aircraft in flight, it is the component of the resultant aerodynamic force measured parallel to the direction of air flow
the trail of scent left by a fox or other animal hunted with hounds
an artificial trail of a strong-smelling substance, sometimes including aniseed, drawn over the ground for hounds to follow
angling unnatural movement imparted to a fly, esp a dry fly, by tension on the angler's line
informal a person or thing that is very tedious; boreexams are a drag
slang a car
short for drag race
  1. women's clothes worn by a man, usually by a transvestite (esp in the phrase in drag)
  2. (as modifier)a drag club; drag show
  3. clothes collectively
informal a draw on a cigarette, pipe, etc
US slang influence or persuasive power
mainly US slang a street or road

Word Origin for drag

Old English dragan to draw; related to Swedish dragga



the plural of foot
at someone's feet as someone's disciple
be run off one's feet or be rushed off one's feet to be very busy
carry off one's feet or sweep off one's feet to fill with enthusiasm
feet of clay a weakness that is not widely known
get one's feet wet to begin to participate in something
have one's feet on the ground or keep one's feet on the ground to be practical and reliable
on one's feet or on its feet
  1. standing up
  2. in good health
  3. (of a business, company, etc) thriving
put one's feet up to rest
stand on one's own feet to be independent
Derived Formsfeetless, adjective
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 drag one's feet



mid-15c., from Old Norse draga, or a dialectal variant of Old English dragan "to draw," both ultimately from Proto-Germanic *dragan "to draw, pull," from PIE root *dhragh- "to draw, drag on the ground" (cf. Sanskrit dhrajati "pulls, slides in," Russian drogi "wagon;" but not considered to be directly the source of Latin trahere).

Meaning "to take a puff" (of a cigarette, etc.) is from 1914. Related: Dragged; dragging. Drag-out "violent fight" is from c.1859. To drag (one's) feet (1946, in figurative sense) supposedly is from logging, from a lazy way to use a two-man saw.



plural of foot (n.).



c.1300, "dragnet," perhaps from a Scandinavian source (cf. Swedish dragg "grapnel") or from Old English dræge "dragnet," related to dragan "to draw" (see drag (v.)).

Sense of "annoying, boring person or thing" is 1813, perhaps from the notion of something that must be dragged as an impediment. Sense of "women's clothing worn by a man" is said to be 1870 theater slang, from the sensation of long skirts trailing on the floor (another guess is Yiddish trogn "to wear," from German tragen); drag queen is from 1941.

Drag racing (1947), is said to be from thieves' slang drag "automobile" (1935), perhaps ultimately from slang sense of "wagon, buggy" (1755), because a horse would drag it. By 1851 this was transferred to "street," as in the phrase main drag (which some propose as the source of the racing sense).

In addition to the time trials there are a number of "drag races" between two or more cars. They are run, not for record, but to satisfy the desire of most Americans to see who can get from here to there in the fastest time. ["Popular Mechanics," January 1947]
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

Science definitions for drag one's feet



A force acting on a moving body, opposite in direction to the movement of the body, caused by the interaction of the body and the medium it moves through. The strength of drag usually depends on the velocity of the body.♦ Drag caused by buildup of pressure in front of the moving body and a decrease in pressure behind the body is called pressure drag. It is an important factor in the design of aerodynamically efficient shapes for cars and airplanes.♦ Drag caused by the viscosity of the medium as the molecules along the body's surface move through it is called skin drag or skin friction. It is an important factor in the design of efficient surface materials for cars, airplanes, boat hulls, skis, and swimsuits. Compare lift. See Note at aerodynamics.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary Copyright © 2011. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.

Idioms and Phrases with drag one's feet

drag one's feet

Also, drag one's heels. Act or work with intentional slowness, deliberately hold back or delay. For example, The British had been dragging their feet concerning a single European currency. This metaphor for allowing one's feet to trail dates from the mid-1900s.


In addition to the idioms beginning with drag

  • drag in
  • drag on
  • drag one's ass
  • drag one's feet
  • drag queen

also see:

  • a drag
  • in drag
  • look like something the cat dragged in
  • main drag
  • wild horses wouldn't drag me


In addition to the idioms beginning with feet

  • feet of clay
  • feet on the ground

also see:

  • at someone's feet
  • both feet on the ground
  • dead on one's feet
  • don't let the grass grow under one's feet
  • drag one's feet
  • fall on one's feet
  • get one's feet wet
  • get the lead out of (one's feet)
  • get to one's feet
  • have two left feet
  • hold someone's feet to the fire
  • off one's feet
  • on one's feet
  • put one's feet up
  • rush off one's feet
  • shake the dust from one's feet
  • six feet under
  • stand on one's feet
  • take the load off (one's feet)
  • think on one's feet
  • under one's feet
  • vote with one's feet

Also see underfoot.

The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.