dally

verb
dal·ly | \ˈda-lē \
dallied; dallying

Definition of dally 

intransitive verb

1a : to act playfully especially : to play amorously

b : to deal lightly : toy accused him of dallying with a serious problem

2a : to waste time

b : linger, dawdle

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Other Words from dally

dallier noun

Choose the Right Synonym for 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, procrastinate, lag, loiter, dawdle, dally mean to move or act slowly so as to fall behind. delay usually implies a putting off of something (such 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

The Evolution of Dally

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.

Examples of dally in a Sentence

Please don't dally. We need you here right away. The two of us dallied over our coffee that morning.

Recent Examples on the Web

The other, dallying behind the main group, has had a less productive evening. Rory Smith, New York Times, "Martin Odegaard’s Second Act on a Smaller Stage," 1 Feb. 2018 New resident Adrienne is a former movie actress who has no problem dallying with the romantic feelings both men have for her. Elizabeth Marie Himchak, Pomerado News, "REVIEW: PowPAC play uses humor to address life changes," 28 Mar. 2018 Clement Lenglet struck back almost immediately for Sevilla, but with the hosts pushing for an equaliser, Tello pounced on defensive dilly-dallying in the fifth minute of stoppage time to seal the win. Afp, chicagotribune.com, "La Liga Recap: Costa scores, sees red in Atletico win over Getafe," 6 Jan. 2018 There’s still plenty of time, but try not to dally too much. Shari Rudavsky, Indianapolis Star, "What Australia's bad flu season might mean for us and other flu facts you need to know," 26 Oct. 2017 There’s still plenty of time, but try not to dally too much. Shari Rudavsky, USA TODAY, "What Australia's bad flu season might mean for us and other flu facts you need to know," 26 Oct. 2017 Redford dilly-dallied with jobs in Milwaukee and improving his land and planting subsistence crops, but his aim was to plant more and more wheat, which could be a money crop. Fred Keller, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Farming was significant in development of Lisbon, Menomonee and Germantown," 25 Aug. 2017 The second gallery groups together stars, like Mr. Salle, with others, including Joyce Pensato, overlooked until recently, who dallied in the images of popular culture, pulling its meanings in provocative directions. Roberta Smith, New York Times, "Painting From the 1980s, When Brash Met Flash," 9 Feb. 2017 In golf news that doesn’t involve the British Open ... Cameron Champ hasn’t dilly-dallied since his breakout performance at last month’s U.S. Open. Steve Pajak, sacbee, "What’s next for Champ after breakout U.S. Open? Amateur’s drive up rankings continues," 18 July 2017

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.

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First Known Use of dally

15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

History and Etymology for dally

Middle English dalyen, from Anglo-French dalier

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Phrases Related to dally

dally with

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Time Traveler for dally

The first known use of dally was in the 15th century

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More Definitions for dally

dally

verb

English Language Learners Definition of dally

: to do something slowly or too slowly

dally

verb
dal·ly | \ˈda-lē \
dallied; dallying

Kids Definition of dally

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

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

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

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