[ lol-ee-gag ]
/ ˈlɒl iˌgæg /

verb (used without object), lol·ly·gagged, lol·ly·gag·ging.



"The Handmaid's Tale" was required reading for many of us in school. Everyone else has probably watched the very popular and addictive TV show. Do you remember this vocabulary from the book, and do you know what these terms mean?
Question 1 of 10
decorum Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2020


What does lollygag mean?

To lollygag is to dilly-dally, dawdle, loaf around, or goof off. If you’re lollygagging, you’re wasting time by moving slowly or doing something less important than what you should be (or doing nothing at all).

Lollygag is primarily used in the United States. It is synonymous with the very similar spelled lallygag, but lollygag is more commonly used. Both are very informal.

Example: Coach yelled at Spencer for lollygagging at practice.

Where does lollygag come from?

The first recorded uses of lollygag and lallygag come from around the 1860s. They are considered Americanisms—meaning they likely originated in and are most used in the United States. But their etymological origin is unknown. The word loll, meaning to “recline or lean in a relaxed or lazy manner” (as in loll on the couch) has been in use since the 1300s, but there is no evidence connecting it to lollygag. Nor is there any evidence that the second part is based on the sense of the word gag referring to a joke or trick. So we’ll stop lollygagging and start talking about how it’s used.

A somewhat formal definition of lollygag is “to waste time idly.” But lollygag is a very informal word applied to the kind of very informal activities best known as goofing off or messing around or dilly-dallying. If you’re supposed to be doing your homework but you’re messing around with your friends by doing nothing in particular, you’re lollygagging. Sometimes, lollygag means “to loiter” or “to do just about nothing at all.” It’s also commonly used to mean “to move slowly or drag behind,” as in Quit lollygagging back there and catch up with the rest of the group!

Lallygag (and to a lesser extent lollygag) was formerly used as a slang term meaning “to kiss or engage in sexual activity,” but it is not really used this way anymore (although some of its synonyms are, such as mess around).

Did you know ... ?

What are some other forms related to lollygag?

  • lollygags (verb, present tense)
  • lollygagged (verb, past tense
  • lollygagging (verb, continuous tense)
  • lollygagger (noun)

What are some synonyms for lollygag?

What are some words that share a root or word element with lollygag

What are some words that often get used in discussing lollygag?

How is lollygag used in real life?

Lollygag is most commonly used by people in the U.S. talking about wasting time or taking longer than they should to do something.


Try using lollygag!

Which of the following words is an antonym (opposite) of lollygag?

A. dawdle
B. idle
C. hurry
D. loiter

British Dictionary definitions for lollygag

/ (ˈlɒlɪˌɡæɡ) /

verb -gags, -gagging or -gagged

(intr) a variant of lallygag
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