[ loi-ter ]
See synonyms for: loiterloiteredloiteringloiterer on Thesaurus.com

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.

  1. to waste time or dawdle over work: He loiters over his homework until one in the morning.

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.

Origin of loiter

First recorded before 1300–50; Middle English loteren, loytren, perhaps from Middle Dutch loteren “to stagger, totter”; compare Dutch leuteren “to dawdle”

synonym study For loiter

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.

Other words for loiter

Other words from loiter

  • loi·ter·er, noun

Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023

How to use loiter in a sentence

  • "Unvexed loiterer by the world's green ways" struck forcibly upon him.

    Eugene Aram, Complete | Edward Bulwer-Lytton
  • Here and there in the passing crowds one might see, now and then, a loiterer edging interestedly near.

    Sister Carrie | Theodore Dreiser
  • The Loiterer began calmly to read solidly through column after column to find this wonderfully exciting paragraph.

    Rowlandson's Oxford | A. Hamilton Gibbs
  • The Loiterer, evidently with this insufficent statute in mind, made some very intelligent remarks propos of this question.

    Rowlandson's Oxford | A. Hamilton Gibbs
  • The professional window shopper is a vagabond at heart—a loiterer by nature.

British Dictionary definitions for loiter


/ (ˈlɔɪtə) /

  1. (intr) to stand or act aimlessly or idly

Origin of loiter

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

Derived forms of loiter

  • loiterer, noun
  • loitering, noun, 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