verb loi·ter \ ˈlȯi-tər \
|Updated on: 16 Aug 2018

Definition of loiter

loitered; loitering; loiters
1 : to delay an activity with idle stops and pauses : dawdle
  • asked him not to loiter on the way home
2 a : to remain in an area for no obvious reason
  • teenagers loitering in the parking lot
b : to lag behind
  • a crowd of people, who loitered to hear the bloodcurdling threats the prisoner shouted
  • —Willa Cather




play \ˈlȯi-tər-ər\ noun

Examples of loiter in a Sentence

  1. Loitering is prohibited outside the theaters.

  2. don't loiter in this neighborhood after dark

Recent Examples of loiter from the Web

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'loiter.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

Origin and Etymology of loiter

Middle English

Synonym Discussion of loiter

delay, procrastinate, lag, loiter, dawdle, dally mean to move or act slowly so as to fall behind. delay usually implies a putting off of something (such as a beginning or departure).
    • we cannot delay any longer
procrastinate implies blameworthy delay especially through laziness or apathy.
    • procrastinates about making decisions
lag implies failure to maintain a speed set by others.
    • lagging behind in technology
loiter and dawdle imply delay while in progress, especially in walking, but dawdle more clearly suggests an aimless wasting of time.
    • loitered at several store windows
    • children dawdling on their way home from school
dally suggests delay through trifling or vacillation when promptness is necessary.
    • stop dallying and get to work

LOITER Defined for English Language Learners


Definition of loiter for English Language Learners

  • : to remain in an area when you do not have a particular reason to be there

LOITER Defined for Kids


verb loi·ter \ ˈlȯi-tər \

Definition of loiter for Students

loitered; loitering
1 : to hang around somewhere for no good reason Loitering outside the store is prohibited.
2 : to dawdle on the way to somewhere
  • Don't loiter on your way home.



Law Dictionary


intransitive verb loi·ter \ ˈlȯi-tər \

legal Definition of loiter

: to remain in or hang around an area for no obvious purpose; specifically : to linger for the purpose of committing a crime
  • a statute forbidding any person from loitering on school grounds

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very hard to disturb or upset

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