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

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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.
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Recent Examples on the Web The winter chill is going to linger in North Texas — according to one groundhog. Dallas News, "Dallas Arboretum’s groundhog guest predicts six more weeks of winter for Dallas-Fort Worth," 2 Feb. 2021 But while many Egyptians admired the changes, few dared to linger there. Declan Walsh, New York Times, "A Decade On, Silence Fills Egypt’s Field of Broken Dreams," 23 Jan. 2021 Over the summer, National Guard troops patrolled federal parks to remind people not to linger, and to remain socially distant. Paul Schwartzman, Washington Post, "A city under siege," 15 Jan. 2021 But being forced to linger outside has opened people’s eyes to its beauty. Amanda Milkovits,, "Blithewold Mansion brings holiday magic outdoors," 31 Dec. 2020 Pointing out that only a few other communities have been as hard hit as Little Village and South Lawndale by both COVID-19 and the resulting unemployment, DeMateo said that the hunger crisis is going to linger. Laura Rodríguez Presa,, "‘We want them to feel loved’: Hundreds of families receive groceries for Christmas dinner as Chicago area faces largest hunger crisis in four decades," 22 Dec. 2020 Both Cole and Solomon say the candemic looks to linger well into 2021. cleveland, "Candemic forecast: Expect breweries to deal with strain on can supply into 2021," 22 Dec. 2020 In the New England area, meteorologists say the storm could linger through Wednesday. Julia Musto, Fox News, "Nor'easter to slam East Coast, Mid-Atlantic," 31 Jan. 2021 Coaches and scouts linger around the hotel and grab players in the hallways for quick interviews. Globe Staff,, "Senior Bowl takes on greater importance for NFL talent evaluators as the only showcase for prospects before draft," 23 Jan. 2021

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

17 Feb 2021

Cite this Entry

“Linger.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 27 Feb. 2021.

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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 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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