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

Bowden had multiple prior arrests including theft, unlawful possession of drug paraphernalia and loitering. Carol Robinson | Crobinson@al.com, al.com, "Gardendale man guilty in deadly baseball bat bludgeoning of girlfriend," 10 July 2019 Many businesses are having problems with loitering in the municipal right-of-way, panhandling, shoplifting, drinking and menacing behavior like pounding on windows, Davidge said. Julia O'malley, Anchorage Daily News, "Panhandling, drinking and loitering are at a breaking point in Midtown Anchorage, businesses say," 26 June 2019 That would include a prohibition against 11 p.m. to 5 p.m. gathering or loitering in breezeways and microplazas. John Fryar, The Denver Post, "Longmont City Council gives initial approval to downtown smoking ban," 25 June 2019 The East Area Rapist _ soon just called the EAR _ loitered and toyed with his victims for hours. Tribune News Service, oregonlive.com, "The Man in the Window: The attacker lingered in houses as he raped, tortured women (Part Three)," 23 June 2019 Conway can usually be found loitering in the mathematics department’s third-floor common room. Quanta Magazine, "A Life in Games," 28 Aug. 2015 Rice was able to leave the state because his March charge, a first-degree misdemeanor count of loitering or prowling by certain offenders in close proximity to children, did not come with travel restrictions. Tiffini Theisen, orlandosentinel.com, "Florida sex offender brought squirt gun, other toys to public pool to prowl for child victims, investigators say," 20 June 2019 Jailin Reynolds, 28, faces battery, loitering, prowling and drug charges in the May 31 attack near a Target on Deerfield Parkway in Milton, according to a police report. Raisa Habersham, ajc, "Cops: Man attacked teen who refused his advances in Milton," 8 June 2018 By Saturday afternoon, reporters and photographers loitered outside the restaurant, as did people who had wandered over to gawk. Sarah Murray, latimes.com, "Why a small-town restaurant owner asked Sarah Huckabee Sanders to leave — and would do it again," 24 June 2018

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

19 Jul 2019

Look-up Popularity

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).


appealing forcibly to the mind or reason

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