pro·​cras·​ti·​nate | \ prə-ˈkra-stə-ˌnāt How to pronounce procrastinate (audio) , prō- \
procrastinated; procrastinating

Definition of procrastinate

transitive verb

: to put off intentionally and habitually

intransitive verb

: to put off intentionally the doing of something that should be done

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Other Words from procrastinate

procrastination \ prə-​ˌkra-​stə-​ˈnā-​shən How to pronounce procrastination (audio) , prō-​ \ noun
procrastinator \ prə-​ˈkra-​stə-​ˌnā-​tər How to pronounce procrastinator (audio) , prō-​ \ noun

Choose the Right Synonym for procrastinate

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

Did You Know?

We won't put off telling you about out the origins of "procrastinate." English speakers borrowed the word in the 16th century from Latin procrastinatus, which itself evolved from the prefix pro-, meaning "forward," and crastinus, meaning "of tomorrow." Like its synonyms "delay," "lag," "loiter," "dawdle," and "dally," "procrastinate" means to move or act slowly so as to fall behind. It typically implies blameworthy delay especially through laziness or apathy.

Examples of procrastinate in a Sentence

He procrastinated and missed the submission deadline. He told her to stop procrastinating and get to work.
Recent Examples on the Web Those in Kentucky who plan to cast an absentee ballot and like to procrastinate until the last minute, meanwhile, have a few more days to sign up. Lucas Aulbach, The Courier-Journal, "Monday is the deadline to register to vote, and Kentucky officials want you to sign up," 4 Oct. 2020 With debt surging and the coronavirus pandemic threatening the deepest economic contraction in almost 90 years, business leaders are warning that President Cyril Ramaphosa’s government can no longer procrastinate. Daniel Tenreiro, National Review, "The Capital Note: Currency Clash," 12 Aug. 2020 In a press conference, LaRose encouraged voters to not procrastinate on their requests for an absentee ballot. Caitlin Conant, CBS News, "Trump slams Kamala Harris over her presidential primary performance," 12 Aug. 2020 Regardless of gender, clutter seems to cause some people to procrastinate in response to stress. Rebecca Renner, National Geographic, "Why pandemic stress breeds clutter—and how to break the cycle," 4 Aug. 2020 The details may be dated but the idea is still resonant—faced with a task, people procrastinate. The Economist, "Slackers and Stakhanovites," 11 July 2020 Thanks to the pandemic, millions of us have even more time than usual to procrastinate on our 2019 tax returns. Tom Herman, WSJ, "What Late Tax Filers Need to Know," 27 May 2020 The goal of the first idea is to prevent voters from procrastinating. Segann March,, "Ohio Secretary of State proposes changes for November vote," 18 May 2020 What are three ways people can manage their emotions to procrastinate less? 4. Natalie Proulx, New York Times, "Lesson of the Day: ‘Procrastinate Much? Manage Your Emotions, Not Your Time.’," 17 Mar. 2020

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'procrastinate.' 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 procrastinate

1588, in the meaning defined at transitive sense

History and Etymology for procrastinate

Latin procrastinatus, past participle of procrastinare, from pro- forward + crastinus of tomorrow, from cras tomorrow

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Time Traveler for procrastinate

Time Traveler

The first known use of procrastinate was in 1588

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Last Updated

11 Oct 2020

Cite this Entry

“Procrastinate.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 30 Oct. 2020.

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More Definitions for procrastinate


How to pronounce procrastinate (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of procrastinate

: to be slow or late about doing something that should be done : to delay doing something until a later time because you do not want to do it, because you are lazy, etc.


pro·​cras·​ti·​nate | \ prə-ˈkra-stə-ˌnāt How to pronounce procrastinate (audio) \
procrastinated; procrastinating

Kids Definition of procrastinate

: to keep putting off something that should be done

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