[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 stragglers

Contemporary Examples of stragglers

Historical Examples of stragglers

  • No horse that the stragglers have stolen can overtake Gypsy.

  • First came four horses, well bunched; after them the stragglers.

    Old Man Curry

    Charles E. (Charles Emmett) Van Loan

  • Mrs. Tidditt brought up the rear, marshaling the stragglers, as it were.

    Fair Harbor

    Joseph Crosby Lincoln

  • Kendrick noted, with sudden uneasiness, that there were stragglers.

    Fair Harbor

    Joseph Crosby Lincoln

  • The two or three stragglers who met the minister carried lanterns.

    Keziah Coffin

    Joseph C. Lincoln

British Dictionary definitions for stragglers


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 stragglers



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