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verb loi·ter \ˈlȯi-tər\

Simple Definition of loiter

  • : to remain in an area when you do not have a particular reason to be there

Source: Merriam-Webster's Learner's Dictionary

Full Definition of loiter

  1. intransitive verb
  2. 1 :  to delay an activity with idle stops and pauses :  dawdle

  3. 2 a :  to remain in an area for no obvious reason b :  to lag behind

loiter noun
loiterer play \-tər-ər\ noun

Examples of loiter in a sentence

  1. Loitering is prohibited outside the theaters.

  2. <don't loiter in this neighborhood after dark>

Origin of loiter

Middle English

First Known Use: 14th century

Synonym Discussion of loiter

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>.

Rhymes with loiter

LOITER Defined for Kids


verb loi·ter \ˈlȯi-tər\

Definition of loiter for Students


  1. 1 :  to hang around somewhere for no good reason <Loitering outside the store is prohibited.>

  2. 2 :  to dawdle on the way to somewhere <Don't loiter on your way home.>

loiterer noun

Law Dictionary


intransitive verb loi·ter \ˈlȯi-tər\

Legal Definition of loiter

  1. :  to remain in or hang around an area for no obvious purpose; specifically :  to linger for the purpose of committing a crime <a statute forbidding any person from loitering on school grounds>

Seen and Heard

What made you want to look up loiter? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


to manage or play awkwardly

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