dilatory

adjective
dil·​a·​to·​ry | \ ˈdi-lə-ˌtȯr-ē How to pronounce dilatory (audio) \

Definition of dilatory

1 : tending or intended to cause delay dilatory tactics
2 : characterized by procrastination : tardy dilatory in paying bills

Other Words from dilatory

dilatorily \ ˌdi-​lə-​ˈtȯr-​ə-​lē How to pronounce dilatory (audio) \ adverb
dilatoriness \ ˈdi-​lə-​ˌtȯr-​ē-​nəs How to pronounce dilatory (audio) \ noun

When Should You Use dilatory?

Slow down. Set a leisurely pace. What's the hurry? If procrastination is your style, "dilatory" is the word for you. That term has been used in English to describe things that cause delay since at least the 15th century, and its ancestors were hanging around with similar meanings long before that. If you take the time to trace the roots of dilatory, you will discover that it derives from "dilatus," the past participle of the Latin verb differre, which meant either "to postpone" or "to differ." If you think "differre" looks like several English words, you have a discerning eye. That verb is also an ancestor of the words "different" and "defer."

Examples of dilatory in a Sentence

the homeowner is claiming that local firefighters were dilatory in responding to the call
Recent Examples on the Web Cleage’s dilatory method, unfortunately, nudges her to find melodramatic solutions to the stasis. Los Angeles Times, 14 Apr. 2022 And some parents-to-be, either superstitious or simply dilatory, hesitate to purchase baby items far in advance. New York Times, 29 Dec. 2021 What makes this dilatory pace unfathomable is that Democrats know the disastrous implications of the loss of a single Senate seat in the midst of a legislative battle. Walter Shapiro, The New Republic, 27 Oct. 2021 Near the end of the meeting on Tuesday, Allard stopped testimony by raising a point of information and asking a series of procedural questions, a move LaFrance said was dilatory. Emily Goodykoontz, Anchorage Daily News, 7 Oct. 2021 Many less attractive traits are also recorded: Charles could be uncommunicative and dilatory, evasive and mendacious, refractory, vindictive, obstinate, even outright wicked, though self-delusive about the motives of others. R.j.w. Evans, The New York Review of Books, 11 June 2020 State and local governments have been even more dilatory. Andrew Stuttaford, National Review, 7 Aug. 2021 Bolick, R-Phoenix, eventually cut off public comment and discussion as Republicans argued Democrats were being dilatory, forcing a vote on the bill. Andrew Oxford, The Arizona Republic, 24 Mar. 2021 Detractors labeled López Obrador’s tentativeness a de facto endorsement of Trump’s dilatory legal tactics and assertions of electoral fraud. Patrick J. Mcdonnell, Los Angeles Times, 8 Nov. 2020 See More

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

First Known Use of dilatory

15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for dilatory

Middle English, from Anglo-French dilatorie, Late Latin dilatorius, from Latin differre (past participle dilatus) to postpone, differ — more at differ, tolerate

Learn More About dilatory

Time Traveler for dilatory

Time Traveler

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

See more words from the same century

Listen to Our Podcast About dilatory

Dictionary Entries Near dilatory

dilatometer

dilatory

dilatory defense

See More Nearby Entries 

Statistics for dilatory

Last Updated

25 Apr 2022

Cite this Entry

“Dilatory.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/dilatory. Accessed 17 May. 2022.

Style: MLA
MLACheck Mark Icon ChicagoCheck Mark Icon APACheck Mark Icon Merriam-WebsterCheck Mark Icon

More from Merriam-Webster on dilatory

Britannica English: Translation of dilatory for Arabic Speakers

WORD OF THE DAY

Test Your Vocabulary

Eponyms: Words Named After People

Name That Thing

Test your visual vocabulary with our 10-question challenge!

TAKE THE QUIZ
Universal Daily Crossword

A daily challenge for crossword fanatics.

TAKE THE QUIZ
Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!