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

Definition of loiter

intransitive verb

1 : to delay an activity with idle stops and pauses : dawdle asked him not to loiter on the way home
2a : 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

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Other Words from loiter

loiter noun
loiterer \ ˈlȯi-​tər-​ər How to pronounce loiterer (audio) \ 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 Suspicious activity: Wildwood Trail & Zorn Lane A resident reported at 12:36 a.m. Dec. 21 that youths loiter in the area and possibly drink and shoot paintballs at houses. cleveland, "Drunk driver causes three car crash: Mayfield Police Blotter," 27 Dec. 2019 Schwartz was charged with loitering in a drug house and giving false name to police. Leada Gore | Lgore@al.com, al, "Deputies nab 3; Suspect kicked 14 grams of meth under hotel bed," 21 Oct. 2019 Matheus Pereira wrapped things up in the 84th minute to send West Brom top of the Championship, with QPR loitering in ninth. SI.com, "Championship Roundup: Charlton Stun Leeds, Forest Triumph at Stoke & Derby Win Thriller," 29 Sep. 2019 Students who warrant a suspension should report to all-day detention and given help with academics, chores around the school and time for contemplation, not sent home to loll around and play video games or loiter in the community. Letters To The Editor, The Mercury News, "Letter: Give detention and help to students who merit suspension," 19 Sep. 2019 Chaverst was charged with multiple counts of disorderly conduct and loitering during the protests at the mall and throughout Hoover. Anna Beahm | Abeahm@al.com, al, "Meet the Birmingham City Council candidates," 2 Oct. 2019 For noise complaints, loitering or wellness checks, residents can call the police non-emergency assistance line at (415) 553-0123. Dominic Fracassa, SFChronicle.com, "How to get city’s help with homelessness, drug dealing (but please, no rocks)," 30 Sep. 2019 The Cardinals were doing just enough to loiter on the edges of an upset, and at times Murray appeared to be getting into a rhythm. Kent Somers, azcentral, "Kliff Kingsbury's decision making dooms Arizona Cardinals in loss to New Orleans Saints," 27 Oct. 2019 At least that is what one Chester Township, Pennsylvania, family discovered earlier this month after several family members were arrested for loitering. Breanna Edwards, Essence, "Pennsylvania Family Arrested For Loitering Outside Of Their Own Home," 11 Oct. 2019

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.

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First Known Use of loiter

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for loiter

Middle English

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Time Traveler for loiter

Time Traveler

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

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Statistics for loiter

Last Updated

18 Jan 2020

Cite this Entry

“Loiter.” The Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/loiter. Accessed 22 January 2020.

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More Definitions for loiter


How to pronounce loiter (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of loiter

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


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

Kids Definition of loiter

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.

Other Words from loiter

loiterer noun
loi·​ter | \ ˈlȯi-tər How to pronounce loiter (audio) \

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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More from Merriam-Webster on loiter

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for loiter

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with loiter

Spanish Central: Translation of loiter

Nglish: Translation of loiter for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of loiter for Arabic Speakers

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