loiter

verb

loi·​ter ˈlȯi-tər How to pronounce loiter (audio)
loitered; loitering; loiters

intransitive verb

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 shoutedWilla Cather
loiter noun
loiterer noun
Choose the Right Synonym for 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

Examples of loiter in a Sentence

Loitering is prohibited outside the theaters. don't loiter in this neighborhood after dark
Recent Examples on the Web The idea is somehow that, loitering on the 495 while police clear away a car accident, a whole lot of truth bombs and F-bombs can now be properly dropped. David Fear, Rolling Stone, 26 June 2024 While a judge may soon decide whether the music must fade out, one thing’s for sure: Devising a long-term solution that works — for businesses, loitering teens, and homeless in San Rafael and elsewhere — will take much longer. Mark Dent, thehustle.co, 21 June 2024 The defendant was known to loiter in the building, according to neighbor Robert Skeff. John Annese, New York Daily News, 9 June 2024 Cracking down on the retail supply has become much harder since drug dealers started connecting with customers by cell phone rather than by loitering on street corners. Mark A. R. Kleiman, Foreign Affairs, 13 Feb. 2017 See all Example Sentences for loiter 

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'loiter.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History

Etymology

Middle English

First Known Use

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of loiter was in the 14th century

Dictionary Entries Near loiter

Cite this Entry

“Loiter.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/loiter. Accessed 12 Jul. 2024.

Kids Definition

loiter

verb
loi·​ter ˈlȯit-ər How to pronounce loiter (audio)
1
: to interrupt or delay an errand or a journey with pointless stops
2
a
: to remain in an area for no good reason
b
: to lag behind
loiterer noun

Legal Definition

loiter

intransitive verb
loi·​ter ˈlȯi-tər How to pronounce loiter (audio)
: 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

More from Merriam-Webster on loiter

Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
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