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

Example Sentences

Hurry up! There's no time to dawdle. Come home immediately after school, and don't dawdle.
Recent Examples on the Web But Pickles, Henry’s horse, would prefer to dawdle. Rachel Walker, Washington Post, 29 Sep. 2022 Many shoppers get free parking with a validation from certain stores and restaurants at the Grove, Americana and Palisades Village, but those who dawdle too long or don’t spend at least $250 could pay as much as $30 at the Grove. Los Angeles Times, 4 June 2022 Clearly, this isn’t the time to dawdle or slack off. Michael Dirda, Washington Post, 25 May 2022 Don’t dawdle, though, because places are expected to book up fast. Susan Dunne, courant.com, 28 Mar. 2022 The team couldn’t dawdle because the dolphins might not stay long. Jill Langlois, Smithsonian Magazine, 16 Mar. 2022 We are rushed through the establishment of this world, only to dawdle as time goes by. Daniel D'addario, Variety, 23 Dec. 2021 Building for the future was too precious to dawdle. Evan Grant, Dallas News, 9 Aug. 2021 Pick a base and branch out or mix and match, but don’t dawdle. David Swanson, Los Angeles Times, 7 June 2021 See More

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'dawdle.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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 7 Dec. 2022.

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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