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verb dal·ly \ˈda-lē\

Simple Definition of dally

  • : to do something slowly or too slowly

Full Definition of dally


  1. intransitive verb
  2. 1 a :  to act playfully; especially :  to play amorously b :  to deal lightly :  toy <accused him of dallying with a serious problem>

  3. 2 a :  to waste time b :  linger, dawdle

dal·li·er noun

Examples of dally

  1. Please don't dally. We need you here right away.

  2. The two of us dallied over our coffee that morning.

Origin of dally

Middle English dalyen, from Anglo-French dalier

First Known Use: 15th century

Synonym Discussion of dally

trifle, toy, dally, flirt, coquet mean to deal with or act toward without serious purpose. trifle may imply playfulness, unconcern, indulgent contempt <to trifle with a lover's feelings>. toy implies acting without full attention or serious exertion of one's powers <a political novice toying with great issues>. dally suggests indulging in thoughts or plans merely as an amusement <dallying with the idea of building a boat someday>. flirt implies an interest or attention that soon passes to another object <flirted with one fashionable ism after another>. coquet implies attracting interest or admiration without serious intention <companies that coquet with environmentalism solely for public relations>.

delay, retard, slow, slacken, detain mean to cause to be late or behind in movement or progress. delay implies a holding back, usually by interference, from completion or arrival <bad weather delayed our arrival>. retard suggests reduction of speed without actual stopping <language barriers retarded their progress>. slow and slacken also imply a reduction of speed, slow often suggesting deliberate intention <medication slowed the patient's heart rate>, slacken an easing up or relaxing of power or effort <on hot days runners slacken their pace>. detain implies a holding back beyond a reasonable or appointed time <unexpected business had detained her>.

delay, procrastinate, lag, loiter, dawdle, dally mean to move or act slowly so as to fall behind. delay usually implies a putting off (as a beginning or departure) <we cannot delay any longer>. procrastinate implies blameworthy delay especially through laziness or apathy <procrastinates about making decisions>. lag implies failure to maintain a speed set by others <lagging behind in technology>. loiter and dawdle imply delay while in progress, especially in walking, but dawdle more clearly suggests an aimless wasting of time <loitered at several store windows> <children dawdling on their way home from school>. dally suggests delay through trifling or vacillation when promptness is necessary <stop dallying and get to work>.

DALLY Defined for Kids


verb dal·ly \ˈda-lē\

Definition of dally


  1. 1 :  to act playfully <Boys and girls dallied at the dance.>

  2. 2 :  to waste time <I dallied at my desk and didn't finish my homework.>

  3. 3 :  linger 1, dawdle <Don't dally on your way home.>

Seen and Heard

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February 10, 2016

to put in good humor

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