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

Due to launch in 2028, their spacecraft is designed to loiter in space, waiting to possibly rocket toward an interstellar object if a suitable target is found. Jonathan O'callaghan, Scientific American, "A Second Interstellar Object May Be Streaking through Our Solar System," 13 Sep. 2019 Seven tenants of the building’s residential units filed protests against Colliau’s liquor license application in October 2018, citing among their concerns noise disturbances, loitering and smoking outside the premises. Esther Mobley, SFChronicle.com, "NIMBYs versus Negronis: Oakland residents protest cocktail bar Here’s How," 5 Aug. 2019 There were club members’ kids, tournament volunteers and even other players loitering and waiting for selfies. Jon Wertheim, SI.com, "50 Parting Thoughts From Wimbledon 2019," 14 July 2019 But the Mets are still loitering, in spite of all those broken backs. Paul Sullivan, chicagotribune.com, "7 things to know about the Cubs’ chances in the National League wild-card race," 8 Sep. 2019 Ron Asheton, his brother, Scott, and their buddy Dave Alexander used to loiter out front, spitting on cars. Amanda Petrusich, The New Yorker, "The Survival of Iggy Pop," 26 Aug. 2019 The most prevalent crimes were loitering, vagrancy, and drunkenness; which was the result of the many bars located along Main Street in Westminster. Kevin Dayhoff, baltimoresun.com/maryland/carroll, "Dayhoff: Westminster Police Department, with 200 years of history, adds six new officers," 9 Aug. 2019 New York Times Today’s essay: On being, joy, and loitering Ross Gay is a writer, gardener, former college gridiron player, and an English professor at Indiana University Bloomington. Ellen Mcgirt, Fortune, "Trump Comes for Baltimore, Baltimore Claps Back: raceAhead," 29 July 2019 Where: Miami What: A storm-heavy week is expected to turn parts of Florida into a moist blubbering mess, thanks to a disturbance loitering above the Atlantic seaboard and about to dump rain, winds and thunderstorms all over the place. Patrick May, The Mercury News, "Hey Bay Area residents, be glad you’re not in these places this week," 22 July 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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Dictionary Entries near loiter





loiter away



Statistics for loiter

Last Updated

11 Oct 2019

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Time Traveler for loiter

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

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More Definitions for loiter



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

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with loiter

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for loiter

Spanish Central: Translation of loiter

Nglish: Translation of loiter for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of loiter for Arabic Speakers

Comments on loiter

What made you want to look up loiter? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


a topic to which one constantly reverts

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