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verb (used without object)
  1. to remain or stay on in a place longer than is usual or expected, as if from reluctance to leave: We lingered awhile after the party.
  2. to remain alive; continue or persist, although gradually dying, ceasing, disappearing, etc.: She lingered a few months after the heart attack. Such practices still linger among the older natives.
  3. to dwell in contemplation, thought, or enjoyment: to linger over the beauty of a painting.
  4. to be tardy in action; delay; dawdle: to linger in discharging one's duties.
  5. to walk slowly; saunter along.
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verb (used with object)
  1. 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.
  2. Archaic. to draw out or protract.
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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


See more synonyms for on Thesaurus.com
1, 4. tarry. 1, 5. loiter.
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

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British Dictionary definitions for lingering


verb (mainly intr)
  1. to delay or prolong departure
  2. to go in a slow or leisurely manner; saunter
  3. to remain just alive for some time prior to death
  4. to persist or continue, esp in the mind
  5. to be slow to act; dither; procrastinate
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Derived Formslingerer, nounlingering, adjectivelingeringly, adverb

Word Origin

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 lingering



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.

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper