lin·​ger ˈliŋ-gər How to pronounce linger (audio)
lingered; lingering ˈliŋ-g(ə-)riŋ How to pronounce linger (audio)

intransitive verb

: to be slow in parting or in quitting something : tarry
fans lingered outside the door
: to remain existent although often waning in strength, importance, or influence
lingering doubts
lingering odors
: to remain alive although gradually dying
was seriously ill, but lingered on for several months
: to be slow to act : procrastinate
He lingered in settling the estate in order to increase his fees.
: to move slowly : saunter
lingering homeward

transitive verb

: to pass (a period of time) slowly
obsolete : delay
lingerer noun
lingeringly adverb

Examples of linger in a Sentence

The tourists didn't linger very long. She lingered at the art exhibit. He lingered in bed and missed breakfast. They lingered over coffee after dinner. The heat lingered long after the sun had gone down. The smell of her perfume lingered. The idea lingered in their minds. See More
Recent Examples on the Web The Ravens also answered a lingering question about who will back up Jackson, at least early in the season. C.j. Doon, Baltimore Sun, 10 Sep. 2023 There were no lingering stains after the blanket went through the wash, and no snags or loose threads appeared. Kathleen Felton, Better Homes & Gardens, 9 Sep. 2023 At times there is a lingering scent of 2014 to the jokes, and the project’s roots in live theater are evident in the fact that there are probably more F-bombs in the script than there are minutes in the film’s runtime. Vulture, 9 Sep. 2023 The Houston rapper also comes in hot, also taking a moment to shrug off the lingering trolls in her comments. Erica Gonzales, ELLE, 8 Sep. 2023 But as richer countries struggle to understand the global South—and especially African nations’ ambivalent reaction to Russia’s war on Ukraine—the lingering effect of abandonment during the pandemic is underappreciated. Mark Suzman september 8, Foreign Affairs, 8 Sep. 2023 Three weeks after going on the injured list, and a month and a half after first experiencing a lingering tightness in his groin/hamstring area, J.D. Martinez was activated by the Dodgers on Friday, returning to the team hopeful that his injury is behind him. Jack Harris, Los Angeles Times, 8 Sep. 2023 Will my own lingering sense that somehow moving to the suburbs represents a personal failing ever go away? David Marchese David Marchese Photograph By Mamadi Doumbouya, New York Times, 8 Sep. 2023 The state, still dealing with lingering damage from last year’s Hurricane Ian, feared disastrous results. Terry Spencer, Anchorage Daily News, 30 Aug. 2023 See More

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

Word History


Middle English (northern dialect) lengeren to dwell, frequentative of lengen to prolong, from Old English lengan; akin to Old English lang long

First Known Use

14th century, in the meaning defined at intransitive sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of linger was in the 14th century

Dictionary Entries Near linger

Cite this Entry

“Linger.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 21 Sep. 2023.

Kids Definition


lin·​ger ˈliŋ-gər How to pronounce linger (audio)
lingered; lingering -g(ə-)riŋ How to pronounce linger (audio)
: to be slow in quitting a place or activity
lingered in bed
: to be slow to act
lingerer noun
lingeringly adverb

More from Merriam-Webster on linger

Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
Love words? Need even more definitions?

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