[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 straggling

Historical Examples of straggling

  • The offence of straggling is generally considered not serious.

    The Leopard Woman

    Stewart Edward White

  • A conjurer must have his time, like a straggling priest in the settlements.

    The Last of the Mohicans

    James Fenimore Cooper

  • It was tied with the greatest caution, and directed in a straggling hand.

    Tiverton Tales

    Alice Brown

  • It was a large house; but low and straggling; and unpretending in its exterior.

    Henry Dunbar

    M. E. Braddon

  • They were all signed in a strange, straggling hand, by the witness.

    The First Violin

    Jessie Fothergill

British Dictionary definitions for straggling


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 straggling



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