Definition of dally
- accused him of dallying with a serious problem
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Please don't dally. We need you here right away.
The two of us dallied over our coffee that morning.
These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'dally.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.
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.
First Known Use: 15th centurySee Words from the same year
drag one's feet (also drag one's heels), drop behind, fall behind, hang fire, mark time, take one's time;
: to do something slowly or too slowly
What made you want to look up dally? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).
investment of mental or emotional energy
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