daw·​dle ˈdȯ-dᵊl How to pronounce dawdle (audio)
dawdled; dawdling ˈdȯ-dliŋ How to pronounce dawdle (audio)

intransitive verb

: to spend time idly
dawdled about in the vestibule …Jane Austen
: to move lackadaisically
"I don't want you dawdling while you making deliveries for Mrs. Ford."Connie Porter

transitive verb

: to spend fruitlessly or lackadaisically
dawdled the day away
ˈdȯ-dlər How to pronounce dawdle (audio)
Choose the Right Synonym for dawdle

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

Examples of dawdle in a Sentence

Hurry up! There's no time to dawdle. Come home immediately after school, and don't dawdle.
Recent Examples on the Web Then one player went the wrong way coming out of the huddle, while a teammate dawdled. Tom Krasovic, San Diego Union-Tribune, 25 Sep. 2023 But in the capital, Friday seemed to dawdle a bit in demonstrating the season’s sparkling essence. Martin Weil, Washington Post, 7 Oct. 2023 Alabama history is built on temper tantrums, active defiance of rules, dawdling, argumentativeness, stubbornness, or being easily annoyed. John Archibald | Jarchibald@al.com, al, 8 Sep. 2023 Admitting that and taking a break for a fun activity might actually waste less of your time than dawdling. Tarot Astrologers, Chicago Tribune, 22 Aug. 2023 Faster pit stops could also help unlock sales for electric two-wheelers, which have been slow to catch on due to dawdling charge times and limited riding range. IEEE Spectrum, 30 Mar. 2023 Haley, again, dawdling, eyes downcast, face leaden with despair, emerged. Benjamin Hale, Harper's Magazine, 10 July 2023 McIlroy, who noted that the precise timing of a swing can be the difference between a ball rocketing 20 yards to the left or 20 yards to the right, has hardly dawdled on his pursuit of a fix. Alan Blinder, New York Times, 16 May 2023 My first half-hour is spent pottering through tranquil Cotswold villages, trapped behind dawdling tourists but enjoying the Aston Martin’s supple ride and easygoing docility—along with the many approving looks—though feeling ever more like a caged animal. Tim Pitt, Robb Report, 10 May 2023 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'dawdle.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


origin unknown

First Known Use

circa 1656, in the meaning defined at intransitive sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of dawdle was circa 1656

Dictionary Entries Near dawdle

Cite this Entry

“Dawdle.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/dawdle. Accessed 8 Dec. 2023.

Kids Definition


daw·​dle ˈdȯd-ᵊl How to pronounce dawdle (audio)
dawdled; dawdling ˈdȯd-liŋ How to pronounce dawdle (audio)
: to spend time wastefully or idly : linger
dawdled over her homework
: to move slowly and aimlessly : loiter
dawdled on the way back
: idle entry 2 sense 1
dawdle the time away
ˈdȯd-lər How to pronounce dawdle (audio)

More from Merriam-Webster on dawdle

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