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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

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
loi·ter·er play \-tər-ər\ noun

Examples of loiter

  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


  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.>

loi·ter·er noun

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).


February 11, 2016

the holder of an office

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