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

Definition of linger

intransitive verb

1 : to be slow in parting or in quitting something : tarry fans lingered outside the door
2a : to remain existent although often waning in strength, importance, or influence lingering doubts lingering odors
b : to remain alive although gradually dying was seriously ill, but lingered on for several months
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 : to pass (a period of time) slowly
2 obsolete : delay

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Other Words from linger

lingerer \ ˈliŋ-​gər-​ər How to pronounce lingerer (audio) \ noun
lingeringly \ ˈliŋ-​g(ə-​)riŋ-​lē How to pronounce lingeringly (audio) \ 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 The result is a beer that's refreshingly hoppy, with intense and floral grapefruit, mango and earthy pine notes, quite malty with lingering honey through the finish. Brian Manzullo, Detroit Free Press, "Bell's Brewery's top-rated Hopslam Ale returns next week: Here's where to find it," 2 Jan. 2020 In 1971, at a time of lingering racial turmoil, the Alexandria school board decided to integrate the upper grades of two all-white high schools with T.C. Williams, which had all black students, according to ACPS. Christina Zdanowicz And Natalie Johnson, CNN, "Herman Boone, football coach played by Denzel Washington in 'Remember the Titans,' dies," 18 Dec. 2019 Crucially, don't overlook the most important element of a Spanish meal: sobremesa, or the custom of lingering at the table well after a meal has finished. Vianessa Castanos, Harper's BAZAAR, "How to Throw a Tapas-Style Dinner Party," 11 Dec. 2019 And all have suffered at least some degree of anonymity, due in part to lingering tension over colonialism, Dalrymple tells Kabir Jhala of the Art Newspaper. Katherine J. Wu, Smithsonian, "London Exhibit Celebrates Indian Artists Who Captured Natural History for the East India Company," 4 Dec. 2019 The trip was widely viewed as a chance for the new family to get away from London, the negative coverage of the couple’s use of private jets this summer, and lingering rumors of a royal rift between William and Kate and Harry and Megan. Simon Usborne, Town & Country, "The Royal Family Has Lost Control of the Message," 23 Nov. 2019 The wrong pillow can lead to persistent neck pain, endless tossing and turning, and lingering soreness the morning after. Laura Fisher,, "This Coop Home Goods Memory Foam Pillow Has Over 12,000 Five-Star Reviews—and Shoppers Call It an 'Adjustable Cloud'," 14 Nov. 2019 Also, most homes and commercial establishment had colorful displays of lingering but attractive flowers. Tom Maccubbin,, "Northern flowers lingered but edible gardens declined," 20 Oct. 2019 OxyContin-maker Purdue Pharma and its billionaire owners, the Sacklers, on Friday got a temporary reprieve from lingering court battles over their alleged role in fueling the opioid crisis. Beth Mole, Ars Technica, "Judge grants mega-rich Sackler family reprieve from legal costs of opioid crisis," 14 Oct. 2019

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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Time Traveler for linger

Time Traveler

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

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Statistics for linger

Last Updated

24 Jan 2020

Cite this Entry

“Linger.” The Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., Accessed 29 January 2020.

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More Definitions for linger


How to pronounce linger (audio)

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 How to pronounce linger (audio) \
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

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for linger

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with 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).


to assert without proof or before proving

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