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February 14, 2010

Word of the Day

  • dally
  • audio pronunciation
  • \DAL-ee\
  • DEFINITION

verb

1
a : to act playfully; especially : to play amorously b : to deal lightly : toy
2
a : to waste time b : linger, dawdle
  • EXAMPLES

"There's nothing like dallying with your sweetie at an exquisite restaurant on Valentine's Day." (Suzanne Podhaizer, Seven Days [Burlington, Vermont], February 13-20, 2008)

  • DID YOU KNOW?

English speakers have been playing with different uses of "dally" since the 14th century. They first started using the word with the meaning "to chat," which was also the meaning of the Anglo-French word from which it was derived, but that meaning fell into disuse by the end of the 15th century. Next, dalliers were amusing themselves by acting playfully with each other especially in amorous and flirtatious ways. Apparently, some dalliers were also a bit derisive, leading "dally" to mean "to deal with lightly or in a way that is not serious." It didn't take long for the fuddy-duddies to criticize all this play as a waste of time. By the mid-16th century, "dally" was weighted down with its "to waste time" and "dawdle" meanings, which, in time, gave way to the word "dillydally," a humorous reduplication of "dally."

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