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 The heat that Georgia felt in the first half of 2022 is likely to linger into early fall and possibly beyond, a new federal forecast shows. Drew Kann, ajc, 26 July 2022 Yet many economists believe inflation is likely to linger for some time. NBC News, 1 May 2022 Tonight: Some storms could linger into the evening, but after sunset, things quiet down and skies clear. David Streit, Washington Post, 21 July 2022 Like a stone tossed into a lake, the ripple effects from the success of The World Games 2022 will linger long after the last visitor goes home. al, 18 July 2022 This weekend’s heat wave will linger into next week and pose serious health risks to vulnerable people. Nathan Solis, Los Angeles Times, 14 July 2022 But Musgrave’s evocative images from an off-kilter world will linger. Wired, 13 July 2022 An area of low pressure in the Gulf of Mexico will linger along the coast and bring heavy rainfall and flooding over the next few days. Janice Dean, Fox News, 12 July 2022 Rules appearing in the Unified Agenda sometimes may linger for years. Clyde Wayne Crews Jr., Forbes, 28 June 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

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Time Traveler for linger

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

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Last Updated

4 Aug 2022

Cite this Entry

“Linger.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 9 Aug. 2022.

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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


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