lag

1 of 7

noun (1)

1
: one that lags or is last
2
a
: the act or the condition of lagging
b
: comparative slowness or retardation
c(1)
: an amount of lagging or the time during which lagging continues
(2)
: a space of time especially between related events or phenomena : interval
3
: the action of lagging for opening shot (as in marbles or billiards)
4
golf : a usually long putt struck with the aim of having the ball stop near the hole

lag

2 of 7

verb (1)

lagged; lagging

intransitive verb

1
a
: to stay or fall behind : linger, loiter
b
: to move, function, or develop with comparative slowness
c
: to become retarded in attaining maximum value
2
: to slacken or weaken gradually : flag
3
: to toss or roll a marble toward a line or a cue ball toward the head cushion to determine order of play
4
golf : to hit a lag putt (see lag entry 1 sense 4)

transitive verb

1
: to lag behind
current that lags the voltage
2
: to pitch or shoot (a coin, a marble, etc.) at a mark
3
golf : to hit (a golf ball or putt) with the aim of having the ball stop near the hole
Woods lagged his first putt to within four feet and then sank his second one to win. Tim Crothers
lagger noun

lag

3 of 7

adjective

lag

4 of 7

noun (2)

1
: a barrel stave
2
: a stave, slat, or strip (as of wood or asbestos) forming part of a covering for a cylindrical object

lag

5 of 7

verb (2)

lagged; lagging

transitive verb

: to cover or provide with lags

lag

6 of 7

verb (3)

lagged; lagging

transitive verb

1
chiefly British slang : to transport or jail for crime
2
chiefly British slang : arrest

lag

7 of 7

noun (3)

1
chiefly British slang
a
: a person transported for crime
b
c
: an ex-convict
2
chiefly British slang : a jail sentence : stretch
Choose the Right Synonym for lag

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

Adjective we're now in the lag end of the project

Word History

Etymology

Noun (1)

probably of Scandinavian origin; akin to Norwegian dialect lagga to go slowly

Noun (2)

probably of Scandinavian origin; akin to Old Norse lǫgg rim of a barrel

Verb (3)

origin unknown

First Known Use

Noun (1)

1514, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Verb (1)

1530, in the meaning defined at intransitive sense 1a

Adjective

1552, in the meaning defined above

Noun (2)

1672, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Verb (2)

1870, in the meaning defined above

Verb (3)

circa 1812, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Noun (3)

circa 1812, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

Time Traveler
The first known use of lag was in 1514

Dictionary Entries Near lag

Cite this Entry

“Lag.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/lag. Accessed 7 Dec. 2022.

Kids Definition

lag 1 of 2

noun

1
: the action or condition of lagging
2
a
: amount of lagging
b
: a time during which lagging continues

lag

2 of 2

verb

lagged; lagging
1
: to stay or fall behind : linger, loiter
2
: to move, function, or develop too slowly
production lagged behind schedule
3
: to slacken little by little : flag
lagger noun

Medical Definition

lag 1 of 2

verb

lagged; lagging

intransitive verb

: to move, function, or develop with comparative slowness
the child lagged in perceptual development
symptoms may lag behind the radiographic changes Carol J. Johns & Theresa M. Michele

transitive verb

: to lag behind
current that lags the voltage

lag

2 of 2

noun

1
: the act or the condition of lagging
2
: comparative slowness or retardation (as in growth or development)
3
a
: a space of time especially between related events or phenomena see lag phase
b
: the time between the application of a stimulus and the occurrence of the response it causes

More from Merriam-Webster on lag

Love words? Need even more definitions?

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


The Great British Vocabulary Quiz

  • union jack speech bubble
  • Named after Sir Robert Peel, what are British police called?
Name That Thing

You know what it looks like… but what is it called?

TAKE THE QUIZ
Universal Daily Crossword

A daily challenge for crossword fanatics.

TAKE THE QUIZ