lin·​ger | \ ˈliŋ-gər How to pronounce linger (audio) \
lingered; lingering\ ˈliŋ-​g(ə-​)riŋ How to pronounce lingering (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 lingerer (audio) \ noun
lingeringly \ ˈliŋ-​g(ə-​)riŋ-​lē How to pronounce lingeringly (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 Customers in masks, their straggly hair weeks from a good cut, lingered outside. Dana Hunsinger Benbow, Indianapolis Star, "197 minutes: Hoosiers face long waits as many quick-service salons, barbershops reopen," 11 May 2020 Travel restrictions and lingering fears of contagion on planes and cruise ships will curtail spending, too, Bain said. Maria Halkias, Dallas News, "Debt-burdened Neiman Marcus runs out of options, files to reorganize in bankruptcy," 7 May 2020 Still, many questions linger about the safety of cruising. Jonathan Levin, Fortune, "Would you book a cruise for $28 a night? Carnival bets on budget travelers for planned August 1 restart," 4 May 2020 In Sydney, beaches have started to reopen, but police officers and lifeguards patrol regularly to ensure that swimmers use the waters only for exercise and do not linger. Su-hyun Lee,, "Across the globe, cities slowly emerging from quarantine face ‘new normal’," 2 May 2020 The injury lingered and the Packers struggled during the season, finishing 6-8-1 in the final year of McCarthy as coach. Jr Radcliffe, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "50 in 50: Randall Cobb is wide open for thrilling 2013 finish," 2 May 2020 That lingering sweetness is just balanced out by a mild hoppiness that steers far clear of bitter territory. Paul Stephen,, "Lone Star Brewing’s first seasonal release, a Mexican-style lager, is the summertime beer we’re sipping right now," 29 Apr. 2020 Ultimately, in most cases, antibodies developed by the immune system to fight off the invader linger in enough of the affected population to confer longer-term immunity and limit person-to-person viral transmission. Lydia Denworth, Scientific American, "How the COVID-19 Pandemic Could End," 28 Apr. 2020 There’s concern that social-distancing rules or lingering fears of infection will prevent patrons from flocking back. John Jurgensen, WSJ, "Harsh Realities for Theaters Closed by Coronavirus After Plays Go Online," 20 Apr. 2020

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

15 May 2020

Cite this Entry

“Linger.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 27 May. 2020.

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More Definitions for linger


How to pronounce linger (audio)

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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More from Merriam-Webster on linger

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for linger

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with linger

Spanish Central: Translation of linger

Nglish: Translation of linger for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of linger for Arabic Speakers

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