lin·​ger | \ˈliŋ-gər \
lingered; lingering\ˈliŋ-​g(ə-​)riŋ \

Definition of linger 

intransitive verb

1 : to be slow in parting or in quitting something : tarry fans lingered outside the door

2a : to remain alive although gradually dying was seriously ill, but lingered on for several months

b : to remain existent although often waning in strength, importance, or influence lingering doubts lingering odors

3 : to be slow to act : procrastinate He lingered in settling the estate in order to increase his fees.

4 : to move slowly : saunter lingering homeward

transitive verb

1 obsolete : delay

2 : to pass (a period of time) slowly

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Other Words from linger

lingerer \ˈliŋ-​gər-​ər \ noun
lingeringly \ˈliŋ-​g(ə-​)riŋ-​lē \ 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.
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Recent Examples on the Web

Many survivors endured lingering PTSD, a psychological disorder that often went undiagnosed during this time. Matt Blitz, Popular Mechanics, "Pearl Harbor Still Holds a Few Mysteries," 7 Dec. 2018 Now there's a new trailer that should dispel any lingering doubts. Jennifer Ouellette, Ars Technica, "New trailer for Disney’s live-action Dumbo captures magic of original," 15 Nov. 2018 Meanwhile, lawmakers will be trying to hammer out agreements on other lingering legislative issues, including a new five-year farm bill. Kristina Peterson, WSJ, "Congress Gears for Final-Stretch Fight Over Border Wall, Mueller Probe," 12 Nov. 2018 Night: After a long day, Vargas likes to use her famous Vitamin C Face Wash to remove makeup and any lingering debris. Kaleigh Fasanella, Allure, "Six Top Aestheticians Share Their Skin-Care Routines," 23 Sep. 2018 But if this trade war lingers on, well, TVs could eventually be included in another round of tariffs on Chinese products. NBC News, "Meet the Press - July 8, 2018," 8 July 2018 Lue even missed two full weeks because of lingering health issues. Joe Vardon,, "From thrown soup to broken legs, Cavaliers and Celtics survived and thrived in chaos to reach Eastern finals," 13 May 2018 For some investors, Apple’s recent slump is a sign of the lingering trade and global-growth concerns stirring angst heading into the year’s end. Amrith Ramkumar, WSJ, "With Apple Near a Bear Market, Stocks Lack a Clear Leader," 18 Nov. 2018 Once the last guest is gone, resist the urge to crawl into bed and give your kitchen at least a little love: Toss lingering napkins and disposable servingware, wrap up any leftovers, and bring wine or cocktail glasses to the sink. Vogue, "Kitchen Confidential: 4 Tricks to Make Your Post-Party Cleanup a Breeze," 16 Nov. 2018

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

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First Known Use of linger

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

History and Etymology for linger

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

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Statistics for linger

Last Updated

12 Dec 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for linger

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

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More Definitions for linger



English Language Learners Definition of linger

: to stay somewhere beyond the usual or expected time

: to continue to exist as time passes

: to remain alive while becoming weaker


lin·​ger | \ˈliŋ-gər \
lingered; lingering

Kids Definition of linger

1 : to be slow in leaving : delay We lingered at the park.

2 : to continue to exist as time passes A faint smell of fried fish lingered about the place …— J. K. Rowling, Chamber of Secrets

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More from Merriam-Webster on linger

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with linger

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for linger

Spanish Central: Translation of linger

Nglish: Translation of linger for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of linger for Arabic Speakers

Comments on linger

What made you want to look up linger? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


living or existing for a long time

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