View synonyms for loitering


[ loi-ter-ing ]


  1. the act of lingering aimlessly or as if aimlessly in or about a place:

    A cluster of teens gathered in front of the plaza were charged with violating a city bylaw against loitering.

  2. the act of moving in a slow, idle manner, with purposeless stops:

    His celebration of loitering as the best form of travel will resonate with anyone who has ever dared toss away a tourist map.

  3. the act of wasting time or dawdling over work:

    As film director Jean Renoir notes, “The foundation of all civilization is loitering” because it gives time for creative thinking.


  1. lingering aimlessly, moving slowly and idly, or wasting time:

    Fossil fuels may not remain plentiful long enough to underwrite such a loitering transition to renewable energy.

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Other Words From

  • loi·ter·ing·ly adverb

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Word History and Origins

Origin of loitering1

First recorded in 1350–1400; loiter ( def ) + -ing 1( def ) for the noun senses; loiter ( def ) + -ing 2( def ) for the adjective sense

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Example Sentences

These minor offenses include encroachment, loitering, illegal lodging and other activities associated with being homeless.

In addition to the drone swarm and underwater robots, the exercise featured a human-portable loitering munition, a kind of semi-autonomous flying weapon that can receive orders from a human operator to attack a selected target.

We’re loitering up top when we see, rising from behind a knuckle of rock, the telltale dust cloud of our truck spinning its wheels.

They could not have been nicer, and they sent an officer by and presumably told the kids not to loiter in the parking lot, and the kids left the area.

Many officers concluded it wasn’t worth the hassle to arrest someone for relatively minor offenses, such as public disturbance or loitering, the former officer said.

Now, with the publication of ‘Loitering,’ the uninitiated can discover what all the fuss is about.

Reading Loitering I thought about David Foster Wallace a lot.

The issue has quickly turned from the supposed issue at hand—namely, is he "loitering" in a place that forbids it?

An absentee father is loitering about with his son and namesake, Mason Jr., at a deserted concert hall.

Nor did we cruise in the singles bar or Christopher Street sense, loitering with sexual intent.

They were slowing down at a station and there were no less than three picturesque looking young fellows loitering about the place.

Then off would roam Sally, perhaps loitering around fair Ingleside, or returning to her beloved pine woods and leafy oak-tree.

She tried to drop behind; but the team had an infinite capacity for loitering.

He was a bird of affairs; he had too much on his mind for loitering.

She questioned a peasant who was loitering near the drawbridge.