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loiter

[loi-ter]
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verb (used without object)
  1. to linger aimlessly or as if aimless in or about a place: to loiter around the bus terminal.
  2. to move in a slow, idle manner, making purposeless stops in the course of a trip, journey, errand, etc.: to loiter on the way to work.
  3. to waste time or dawdle over work: He loiters over his homework until one in the morning.
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verb (used with object)
  1. to pass (time) in an idle or aimless manner (usually followed by away): to loiter away the afternoon in daydreaming.
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Origin of loiter

1300–50; Middle English loteren, loytren, perhaps < Middle Dutch loteren to stagger, totter; compare Dutch leuteren to dawdle
Related formsloi·ter·er, nounloi·ter·ing·ly, adverb

Synonyms

See more synonyms for loiter on Thesaurus.com
1. Loiter, dally, dawdle, idle imply moving or acting slowly, stopping for unimportant reasons, and in general wasting time. To loiter is to linger aimlessly: to loiter outside a building. To dally is to loiter indecisively or to delay as if free from care or responsibility: to dally on the way home. To dawdle is to saunter, stopping often, and taking a great deal of time, or to fritter away time working in a halfhearted way: to dawdle over a task. To idle is to move slowly and aimlessly, or to spend a great deal of time doing nothing: to idle away the hours. 1–4. loaf. 2, 3. delay, tarry.
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for loiter

Historical Examples

  • But the Prussians were drawing near: it would not answer to loiter behind the wall.

    The Downfall

    Emile Zola

  • He attempted to loiter, and threw in a line as if his only intention were to fish.

    Murder Point

    Coningsby Dawson

  • He seemed to loiter, as if on purpose to meet with our hero.

    Waverley

    Sir Walter Scott

  • But the Secretary's messengers know when to hasten and when to loiter on the way.

    Simon Dale

    Anthony Hope

  • Very few people are, as a rule, in Paris, and these are not tempted to loiter.

    The Library

    Andrew Lang


British Dictionary definitions for loiter

loiter

verb
  1. (intr) to stand or act aimlessly or idly
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Derived Formsloiterer, nounloitering, noun, adjective

Word Origin

C14: perhaps from Middle Dutch löteren to wobble: perhaps related to Old English lūtian to lurk
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 loiter

v.

early 15c., "idle one's time, dawdle over work," from Middle Dutch loteren "be loose or erratic, shake, totter" like a loose tooth or a sail in a storm; in modern Dutch, leuteren "to delay, linger, loiter over one's work." Probably cognate with Old English lutian "lurk," and related to Old English loddere "beggar;" Old High German lotar "empty, vain," luzen "lurk;" German Lotterbube "vagabond, rascal," lauschen "eavesdrop;" Gothic luton "mislead;" Old English lyðre "base, bad, wicked." Related: Loitered; loitering.

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper