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

Keep scrolling for more

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.
See More
Recent Examples on the Web Thousands of stir-crazy Americans have flocked to beaches and tourist spots over the Memorial Day weekend, and while many tried to stay safe, many others seemed to ignore social-distancing rules despite the lingering coronavirus pandemic. Fox News, "Memorial Day travelers hit tourists spots across US, but not always social-distancing," 25 May 2020 Annie burrowed her face in Rose’s hair, lingering on the phrase Rose has missed you. Hilary Leichter, Harper's Magazine, "Terrace Story," 25 May 2020 Democrats in Arizona's Legislature want to make changes to state unemployment benefits, including making more people eligible for help as the business fallout of the coronavirus pandemic lingers. Ryan Randazzo, azcentral, "Democrats want Arizona to increase jobless benefits, make more people eligible," 22 May 2020 Though Spurs players and management downplayed any acrimony lingering from Leonard’s forced departure to Toronto the summer before, Spurs fans had not forgotten. Jeff Mcdonald,, "Top 10 Spurs moments: Honorable mentions," 20 May 2020 And while her latest scan showed no signs of lingering cancer, the stress of enduring a major medical trauma has been slower to dissipate. Ac Shilton,, "We Need to Talk About PTSD in People With Past Health Traumas—and How Coronavirus Is Making it Worse," 20 May 2020 Both sides argue publicly that the trade spat is just that: a lingering disagreement about barley prices that stretches back to 2018. Naomi Xu Elegant, Fortune, "Of beef and barley: Why China and Australia are feuding—and what it means for the U.S. trade war," 19 May 2020 Now, as hospitals and doctors reopen their doors to an array of services, these women still face a potential roadblock: the lingering lack of widespread tests for Covid-19. Sarah Krouse, WSJ, "Fertility Treatments Resume, With Debate Over Coronavirus Testing," 19 May 2020 Confidence: Medium The holiday weekend forecast is a tough call with the latest guidance trending toward lingering showers on Saturday and delaying warming trends. Matt Rogers, Washington Post, "D.C.-area forecast: Cloudy and cool period with late-week showers, followed by a weekend warmup," 19 May 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.

See More

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

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about linger

Time Traveler for linger

Time Traveler

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

See more words from the same century

Statistics for linger

Last Updated

29 May 2020

Cite this Entry

“Linger.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 3 Jun. 2020.

Keep scrolling for more

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

Keep scrolling for more

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

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).


See Definitions and Examples »

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

May 2020 Words of the Day Quiz

  • a blooming wisteria tree
  • Which is a synonym of exiguous?
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?


Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!