[woo l-gath-er-ing]


indulgence in idle fancies and in daydreaming; absentmindedness: His woolgathering was a handicap in school.
gathering of the tufts of wool shed by sheep and caught on bushes.

Origin of woolgathering

First recorded in 1545–55; wool + gathering


[woo l-gath-er]

verb (used without object)

to engage in woolgathering.

Origin of woolgather

First recorded in 1840–50; by back formation from woolgathering
Related formswool·gath·er·er, noun
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for woolgathering

Contemporary Examples of woolgathering

Historical Examples of woolgathering

  • Really, God thought with annoyance, this woolgathering—at such a moment!

    The Worshippers

    Damon Francis Knight

  • Woolgathering, Ben had missed some remark about Artemis' rigging.

    Wilderness of Spring

    Edgar Pangborn

  • Such strange alleys do my thoughts run along when I am woolgathering in the field.

    Tell England

    Ernest Raymond

  • In a woolgathering way, the animal acknowledged Reuben's feet, but had no time for them.

    Wilderness of Spring

    Edgar Pangborn

  • Mrs. Ferrall's wits returned nimbly from woolgathering, and she shot a startled, inquiring glance at the girl beside her.

    The Fighting Chance

    Robert W. Chambers

British Dictionary definitions for woolgathering



idle or absent-minded indulgence in fantasy; daydreaming
Derived Formswoolgatherer, noun
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 woolgathering

1550s, "indulging in wandering fancies and purposeless thinking," from the literal meaning "gathering fragments of wool torn from sheep by bushes, etc." (see wool + gather).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper