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 Burros loiter in the middle of the street and collect handouts from travelers. Roger Naylor, azcentral, "10 surprising things about Arizona that you probably don't know," 12 Dec. 2019 He also is charged with public intoxication, loitering, third-degree criminal trespassing, second-degree forgery (four counts), criminal impersonation and being an out-of-state fugitive, according to Shain. CBS News, "Inmate who escaped South Carolina prison in 1979 captured in Delaware," 3 Jan. 2020 Many of them would discuss an episode the next day at work, while loitering around the water cooler. Washington Post, "The decade’s most impactful pop-culture debuts, from ‘Game of Thrones’ to Kylie Jenner as a billionaire," 23 Dec. 2019 Black children are overrepresented in arrests for nebulous, low-level charges like loitering, breaking curfew, and suspicion. Dasia Moore, Quartz, "Being a protective black mom isn’t a parenting choice—it’s the only choice," 20 Dec. 2019 The guy who loitered statically around the arc last season? John Shipley, Twin Cities, "John Shipley: This Andrew Wiggins? He’s something else," 14 Nov. 2019 There, enzymes that normally loiter around tumors remove these molecular handcuffs, unleashing the drug on the cancerous cells. Mitch Leslie, Science | AAAS, "Revamped cancer drug starves tumors in mice," 7 Nov. 2019 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

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

15 Feb 2020

Cite this Entry

“Loiter.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/loiter?pronunciation&lang=en_us&dir=l&file=loiter01. Accessed 18 Feb. 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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