moving from place to place without a fixed plan; roaming; rambling: wandering tourists.
having no permanent residence; nomadic: a wandering tribe of Indians.
meandering; winding: a wandering river; a wandering path.


an aimless roving about; leisurely traveling from place to place: a period of delightful wandering through Italy.
Usually wanderings.
  1. aimless travels; meanderings: Her wanderings took her all over the world.
  2. disordered thoughts or utterances; incoherencies: mental wanderings; the wanderings of delirium.
seemingly aimless or random movement or locomotion by a person with a mental disorder or cognitive impairment: Wandering by Alzheimer’s patients is a problem in nursing homes.See also elopement(def 2).

Origin of wandering

before 1000; Middle English (noun, adj.), Old English wandrigende (adj.). See wander, -ing2, -ing1
Related formswan·der·ing·ly, adverbwan·der·ing·ness, nounun·wan·der·ing, adjectiveun·wan·der·ing·ly, adverb



verb (used without object)

to ramble without a definite purpose or objective; roam, rove, or stray: to wander over the earth.
to go aimlessly, indirectly, or casually; meander: The river wanders among the rocks.
to extend in an irregular course or direction: Foothills wandered off to the south.
to move, pass, or turn idly, as the hand or the eyes.
(of the mind, thoughts, desires, etc.) to take one direction or another without conscious intent or control: His attention wandered as the speaker droned on.
to stray from a path, place, companions, etc.: During the storm the ship wandered from its course.
to deviate in conduct, belief, etc.; err; go astray: Let me not wander from Thy Commandments.
to think or speak confusedly or incoherently.
(of a person with a mental disorder or cognitive impairment) to move about or walk in a seemingly aimless or random manner.

verb (used with object)

to travel about, on, or through: He wandered the streets.


Mechanics. the drift of a gyroscope or a similar device.

Origin of wander

before 900; Middle English wandren, Old English wandrian (cognate with German wandern), frequentative of wendan to wend; see -er6
Related formswan·der·er, nounout·wan·der, verb (used with object)

Synonyms for wander

Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for wandering

Contemporary Examples of wandering

Historical Examples of wandering

  • He had been wandering about a long time—not in years, for he was less than thirty.


    Mary Roberts Rinehart

  • For perhaps an hour Joe Drummond had been wandering up and down the Street.


    Mary Roberts Rinehart

  • She felt as if she had been wandering, and had come home to the arms that were about her.


    Mary Roberts Rinehart

  • "Yes; that is—very much," I stammered, wandering back to Helen's desk.

  • What was the use of wandering about the house in this disconsolate manner?

    The Foolish Lovers

    St. John G. Ervine

British Dictionary definitions for wandering


verb (mainly intr)

(also tr) to move or travel about, in, or through (a place) without any definite purpose or destination
to proceed in an irregular course; meander
to go astray, as from a path or course
(of the mind, thoughts, etc) to lose concentration or direction
to think or speak incoherently or illogically


the act or an instance of wandering
Derived Formswanderer, nounwandering, adjective, nounwanderingly, adverb

Word Origin for wander

Old English wandrian; related to Old Frisian wandria, Middle Dutch, Middle High German wanderen
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 wandering



Old English wandrian "move about aimlessly, wander," from West Germanic *wandrojan (cf. Old Frisian wondria, Middle Low German, Middle Dutch wanderen, German wandern "to wander," a variant form of the root represented in Old High German wantalon "to walk, wander"), from root *wend- "to turn" (see wind (v.)). In reference to the mind, affections, etc., attested from c.1400. Related: Wandered; wandering. The Wandering Jew of Christian legend first mentioned 13c. (cf. French le juif errant, German der ewige Jude).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

wandering in Medicine




Moving about freely; not fixed; abnormally motile.
The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.