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verb (used without object)
  1. (of a man) to make love with a woman one cannot or will not marry; carry on flirtations.
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Origin of philander

1675–85; < Greek phílandros one who loves (of a woman, loving her husband); see philo-, andro-; later used in fiction as a proper name for a lover, and apparently mistaken as “a man who loves”
Related formsphi·lan·der·er, noun


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Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Related Words


Examples from the Web for philanderer

Contemporary Examples

Historical Examples

  • A vision of his antitype, the Cowes Philanderer, crossed me for a second.

    The Riddle of the Sands

    Erskine Childers

  • In one of his plays—The Philanderer—a certain character has five or six natures.


    James Huneker

  • His "The Philanderer" was published before a theater would accept it.

    Six Major Prophets

    Edwin Emery Slosson

  • For all that he was puzzled; he had not thought Musgrave a philanderer.

    Kit Musgrave's Luck

    Harold Bindloss

  • "If Musgrave's not a philanderer, he's mighty dull," he said.

    Kit Musgrave's Luck

    Harold Bindloss

British Dictionary definitions for philanderer


  1. (intr often foll by with) (of a man) to flirt with women
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Derived Formsphilanderer, nounphilandering, noun, adjective

Word Origin

C17: from Greek philandros fond of men, from philos loving + anēr man; used as a name for a lover in literary works
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 philanderer


1816, agent noun from philander (v.).

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1737, from the noun meaning "a lover" (1700), from Philander, popular name for a lover in stories, drama, and poetry, from Greek adjective philandros "with love for people," perhaps mistaken as meaning "a loving man," from phil- "loving" (see philo-) + andr-, stem of aner "man" (see anthropo-). Related: Philandered; philandering.

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper