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

Other Words from linger

lingerer \ ˈliŋ-​gər-​ər How to pronounce linger (audio) \ noun
lingeringly \ ˈliŋ-​g(ə-​)riŋ-​lē How to pronounce linger (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. See More
Recent Examples on the Web But dreary weather, including overcast skies, gusty winds and occasional rain, will linger in parts of the Northeast through the mid-Atlantic over the weekend. Christine Fernando, USA TODAY, 6 May 2022 Unpaid rent will linger for years for those that couldn’t pay it and those who didn’t get paid. Roger Valdez, Forbes, 5 May 2022 Humidity will linger between 50 and 100 percent throughout the weekend. Jay R. Jordan, Chron, 3 May 2022 The struggle to secure enough chips in the US will linger until 2024 and possibly beyond, according to Intel. Michael Kan, PCMAG, 28 Apr. 2022 The far-right (and far-left) threat to France—and by extension to Europe and the West—will linger far beyond any potential second term for Macron. Tom Mctague, The Atlantic, 22 Apr. 2022 Though the residents are free of Russian occupation, questions about what exactly happened during those troubled days will linger for years to come. New York Times, 17 Apr. 2022 But the headaches of the latest tax season — and last year's leftover troubles — will linger in the months ahead. Susan Tompor, Detroit Free Press, 15 Apr. 2022 Skepticism will linger until Robinson proves himself in NFL games, though. Jon Hale, The Courier-Journal, 12 Apr. 2022 See More

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.

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

Learn More About linger

Time Traveler for linger

Time Traveler

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

See more words from the same century

Dictionary Entries Near linger




See More Nearby Entries 

Statistics for linger

Last Updated

12 May 2022

Cite this Entry

“Linger.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 18 May. 2022.

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

More Definitions for linger


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, Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets

More from Merriam-Webster on linger

Nglish: Translation of linger for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of linger for Arabic Speakers


Test Your Vocabulary

Name That Food

  • a-light
  • Name these cookies!
How Strong Is Your Vocabulary?

Test your vocabulary with our 10-question quiz!

Universal Daily Crossword

A daily challenge for crossword fanatics.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

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