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 Once that process is completed, mRNA doesn’t linger in the bloodstream. Daniel Funke, USA TODAY, "Fact check: Coronavirus vaccines don’t cause death, won’t decimate world’s population," 1 May 2021 Thankfully, this warped body image didn't linger for too long. Dalton Ross,, "Survivor Quarantine Questionnaire: Alison Raybould on her 'warped body image' after playing," 29 Apr. 2021 The prosecution did not linger on Floyd’s humanity. Washington Post, "Justice by the numbers," 29 Mar. 2021 It can be used on carpets, hard surface floors, furniture and more, and its orange scent is pleasant and doesn't linger. Laura Duerr,, "Best products for removing pet stains from carpet," 5 Mar. 2021 The cheesy grits are capped off with hot sauce, offering a zing that doesn’t linger. Sarah Blaskovich, Dallas News, "I’m calling it: This Fort Worth shop is the best new barbecue joint in North Texas," 10 Feb. 2021 And some suggested that museumgoers do not linger over art for as long as some would expect. New York Times, "Closed Nearly a Year, Empty Museums in Los Angeles Struggle," 10 Feb. 2021 All of us who have decorated will need to be mindful of making sure that folks don't linger. Doug Maccash,, "Looking for Mardi Gras house floats in New Orleans and beyond? See official map with 3,000 locations," 1 Feb. 2021 The camera doesn’t linger on their clothes but offers us quick glimpses and details that stoke desire. Vogue, "Hollywood, Hitchcock, and Heels Feature in Luca Guadagnino’s Film for Salvatore Ferragamo," 26 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

12 May 2021

Cite this Entry

“Linger.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 15 May. 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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