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

The report highlights some lingering concerns in the economy, most notably slow wage growth. New York Times, "Fed Plays Down Trade Woes and Suggests Rosy Economic Outlook," 13 July 2018 The appeals process could take many months, leaving lingering uncertainty over AT&T’s plans. Drew Fitzgerald, WSJ, "Justice Department Appeals Ruling Allowing AT&T-Time Warner Merger," 12 July 2018 Callahan has reason to feel uniquely burdened, from the shattering impact and lingering trauma of his accident to his inability to forget or forgive the mother who gave him up for adoption. Justin Chang,, "Review: Joaquin Phoenix stars in the captivating addiction drama 'Don't Worry, He Won't Get Far on Foot'," 12 July 2018 Even after replenishing with water, lingering muscle soreness is a constant reminder of the day's work. Zahria Rogers, The Courier-Journal, "Concierge IV hydration therapy service seeks to rehydrate Louisville," 12 July 2018 Barry never had another season like ‘74-75, as lingering knee issues mounted and the Warriors moved away from using him as the primary ball-handler. Ryan Ford, Detroit Free Press, "NBA superteams haven't won all the championships: 5 surprise winners," 9 July 2018 In the wake of this activity, moist, tropical air is to remain in place, bringing a lingering chance of isolated storms through Sunday night. Tom Skilling,, "Rise in humidity ups chance of thunderstorms," 13 July 2018 But the lingering distrust within the activist class could prove problematic for Democrats. Emily Cadei, sacbee, "Democrats push for unity in California House races after bruising primary," 13 July 2018 There is also the small matter of widespread allegations of malfeasance and corruption involved in the bidding process, and some lingering sour grapes that the United States missed out because of it. Martin Rogers, USA TODAY, "Qatar is the World Cup every fan should attend," 13 July 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

17 Oct 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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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 reject or criticize sharply

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