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

Blackjewel is part of the latest spate of coal producers to file for bankruptcy, a trend that has lingered under President Trump as the nation’s appetite for coal has continued to shrink. Tim Craig, Washington Post, "In Trump country, a group of coal miners rebel over lost jobs, missed paychecks," 31 Aug. 2019 Jenner’s invention has saved countless lives, but the bloody-mindedness of him and his followers ended up creating a culture of mistrust that lingers to this day. The Economist, "The original anti-vaxxers," 30 Aug. 2019 Adderley missed most of training camp and the first three preseason games because of a hamstring issue that lingered since before the draft. Jeff Miller, Los Angeles Times, "Chargers rookie Nasir Adderley shows his speed and talent in preseason finale," 30 Aug. 2019 Versatility might win out normally, but if Da’Shawn Hand’s arm injury is expected to linger, Loewen would be the logical one-for-one replacement and choice to make the 53. Carlos Monarrez, Detroit Free Press, "Detroit Lions' Josh Johnson makes case for winning backup QB job," 30 Aug. 2019 Most importantly, vultures remove carrion that would otherwise linger and spread disease. San Diego Union-Tribune, "Devoted parents, they purify the environment: Meet the vultures," 30 Aug. 2019 McKinnon’s availability for the upcoming season is one of the team’s few lingering mysteries. Cam Inman, The Mercury News, "Brace yourself, 49ers McKinnon practicing, but Street IR bound," 27 Aug. 2019 Typically when group interviews with the coach or star players break, the more established media members tend to linger a bit and have some on- or off-the-record chit-chat. Jonathan Jones,, "A Big Year for the Media Members Covering the Browns’ Big Year," 27 Aug. 2019 The showers and thunderstorms are expected to linger until 10 p.m. and then slowly weaken through the rest of the night, forecasters said. Martin Finucane,, "Severe thunderstorms bring rain, wind; possible funnel cloud spotted," 21 Aug. 2019

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

5 Sep 2019

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 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

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with linger

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for 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).


one from the Upper Peninsula of Michigan

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