[ lah-lee-gag, lal-ee- ]
/ ˈlɑ liˌgæg, ˈlæl i- /
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verb (used without object), lal·ly·gagged, lal·ly·gag·ging.Informal.



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Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2021


What does lallygag mean?

To lallygag is to dilly-dally, dawdle, loaf around, or goof off. If you’re lallygagging, you’re wasting time by moving slowly or doing something less important than what you should be (or doing nothing at all).

Lallygag is synonymous with the very similar spelled lollygag, which is much more commonly used. Both are very informal and are primarily used in the United States.

Example: Coach yelled at Spencer for lallygagging at practice.

Where does lallygag come from?

The first recorded uses of lollygag and lallygag come from around the 1860s. They are considered Americanisms—meaning they likely originated in and are most used in the United States. But their etymological origin is unknown. The word loll, meaning to “recline or lean in a relaxed or lazy manner” (as in loll on the couch) has been in use since the 1300s, but there is no evidence connecting it to lollygag or lallygag. Nor is there any evidence that the second part is based on the sense of the word gag referring to a joke or trick. So we’ll stop lallygagging and start talking about how it’s used.

A somewhat formal definition of lallygag is “to waste time idly.” But lallygag is a very informal word applied to the kind of very informal activities best known as goofing off or messing around or dilly-dallying. If you’re supposed to be doing your homework but you’re messing around with your friends by doing nothing in particular, you’re lallygagging. Sometimes, lallygag means “to loiter” or “to do just about nothing at all.” It’s also commonly used to mean “to move slowly or drag behind,” as in Quit lallygagging back there and catch up with the rest of the group!

Lallygag (and to a lesser extent lollygag) was formerly used as a slang term meaning “to kiss or engage in sexual activity,” but it is not really used this way anymore (although some of its synonyms are, such as mess around).

Did you know ... ?

What are some other forms related to lallygag?

  • lallygagging (continuous tense verb, noun)
  • lallygagger (noun)

What are some synonyms for lallygag?

What are some words that often get used in discussing lallygag?

How is lallygag used in real life?

Lallygag is most commonly used by people in the U.S. talking about wasting time or taking longer than they should to do something. Lollygag is much more commonly used.



Try using lallygag!

Which of the following words is an antonym (opposite) of lallygag?

A. dawdle
B. idle
C. hurry
D. loiter

British Dictionary definitions for lallygag



/ (ˈlælɪˌɡæɡ) /

verb -gags, -gagging or -gagged

(intr) US to loiter aimlessly
C20: of unknown 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
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