[strag-uh l]

verb (used without object), strag·gled, strag·gling.

to stray from the road, course, or line of march.
to wander about in a scattered fashion; ramble.
to spread or be spread in a scattered fashion or at irregular intervals: The trees straggle over the countryside.

Origin of straggle

1350–1400; Middle English straglen < ?
Related formsstrag·gler, nounstrag·gling·ly, adverb Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for straggler

Historical Examples of straggler

  • May your straggler justify your odd fancy this time, brother!

  • Only the straggler or deserter has as few marks as you to show.

    The Long Roll

    Mary Johnston

  • The last swift I observed was about the 21st August; it was a straggler.

  • He whistled and sounded his horn in vain; the straggler paid no attention to the summons.

  • Some thought a straggler had used it as a lodging, and set it on fire in lighting his pipe.

    Freaks of Fortune

    Oliver Optic

British Dictionary definitions for straggler


verb (intr)

to go, come, or spread in a rambling or irregular way; stray
to linger behind or wander from a main line or part
Derived Formsstraggler, nounstraggling, adjectivestragglingly, adverbstraggly, adjective

Word Origin for straggle

C14: of uncertain origin; perhaps related to strake and stretch
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 straggler



c.1400, "to wander from the proper path, to rove from one's companions," perhaps from a Scandinavian source (cf. dialectal Norwegian stragla "to walk laboriously"), or a frequentative of straken "to move, go." Specifically of soldiers from 1520s. Related: Straggled; straggling.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper