verb (used without object)

verb (used with object)

to pass (time, life, etc.) in a leisurely or a tedious manner (usually followed by away or out): We lingered away the whole summer at the beach.
Archaic. to draw out or protract.

Origin of linger

1250–1300; Middle English lengeren to dwell, remain (somewhere), frequentative of lengen, Old English lengan to delay, prolong, literally, lengthen. See long1, -er6
Related formslin·ger·er, nounlin·ger·ing·ly, adverbout·lin·ger, verb (used with object)o·ver·lin·ger, verb (used without object)un·lin·ger·ing, adjective

Synonyms for linger

1, 4. tarry. 1, 5. loiter. Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for linger

Contemporary Examples of linger

Historical Examples of linger

  • Angie moved slowly toward the door, but Josie inclined to linger.

    The Fortune Hunter

    Louis Joseph Vance

  • These are some of the legends and superstitions which linger amongst us.

    English Villages

    P. H. Ditchfield

  • But it was not for long that Gloria was allowed to linger even in her own house.

    Gloria and Treeless Street

    Annie Hamilton Donnell

  • But I cannot linger upon this at present, tempting although it be.

  • I will not linger over the affair—as unpleasant to myself as it can be to any of my readers.

    Wilfrid Cumbermede

    George MacDonald

British Dictionary definitions for linger


verb (mainly intr)

to delay or prolong departure
to go in a slow or leisurely manner; saunter
to remain just alive for some time prior to death
to persist or continue, esp in the mind
to be slow to act; dither; procrastinate
Derived Formslingerer, nounlingering, adjectivelingeringly, adverb

Word Origin for linger

C13 (northern dialect) lengeren to dwell, from lengen to prolong, from Old English lengan; related to Old Norse lengja; see long 1
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 linger

c.1300, lenger "reside, dwell," northern England frequentative of lengen "to tarry," from Old English lengan "prolong, lengthen," from Proto-Germanic *langjan "to make long" (cf. Old Frisian lendza, Old High German lengan, Dutch lengen "to lengthen"), source of Old English lang (see long (adj.)). Sense of "delay going, depart slowly and unwillingly" is from 1520s. Related: Lingered; lingering.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper