verb wan·der \ ˈwän-dər \
|Updated on: 15 Aug 2018

Definition of wander

wandered; wandering play \ˈwän-d(ə-)riŋ\
1 a : to move about without a fixed course, aim, or goal
b : to go idly about : ramble
  • wandering around the house
2 : to follow a winding course : meander
3 a : to go astray (as from a course) : stray
  • wandered away from the group
b : to go astray morally : err
c : to lose normal mental contact : stray in thought
  • his mind wandered
: to roam over
  • wandered the halls




play \ˈwän-dər-ər\ noun

Examples of wander in a Sentence

  1. I was just wandering around the house.

  2. They wandered down the street.

  3. Students were wandering the halls.

  4. He wandered away from the trail and got lost.

Recent Examples of wander from the Web

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'wander.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

Origin and Etymology of wander

Middle English wandren, from Old English wandrian; akin to Middle High German wandern to wander, Old English windan to wind, twist

Synonym Discussion of wander

wander, roam, ramble, rove, traipse, meander mean to go about from place to place usually without a plan or definite purpose. wander implies an absence of or an indifference to a fixed course.
    • fond of wandering about the square just watching the people
roam suggests wandering about freely and often far afield.
    • liked to roam through the woods
ramble stresses carelessness and indifference to one's course or objective.
    • the speaker rambled on without ever coming to the point
rove suggests vigorous and sometimes purposeful roaming.
    • armed brigands roved over the countryside
traipse implies a course that is erratic but may sometimes be purposeful.
    • traipsed all over town looking for the right dress
meander implies a winding or intricate course suggestive of aimless or listless wandering.
    • the river meanders for miles through rich farmland

WANDER Defined for English Language Learners


Definition of wander for English Language Learners

  • : to move around or go to different places usually without having a particular purpose or direction

  • : to follow a path with many turns

  • : to go away from a path, course, etc.

WANDER Defined for Kids


verb wan·der \ ˈwän-dər \

Definition of wander for Students

wandered; wandering
1 : to move about without a goal or purpose : ramble
2 : to get off the right path or leave the right area : stray
  • “She would never wander far away alone … you know how timid she is.”
  • —Lucy Maud Montgomery, Anne of Avonlea
3 : to lose concentration
  • My mind began to wander.
4 : to follow a winding course The path wanders through the woods.



Synonym Discussion of wander

wander, roam, and ramble mean to move about from place to place without a reason or plan. wander is used for moving about without following a fixed course.
    • The tribes wandered in the desert for forty years.
roam is used for the carefree act of wandering over a wide area often for the sake of enjoyment.
    • I roamed over the hills and through the meadows.
ramble is used for wandering in a careless way.
    • Horses rambled over the open range.

Seen and Heard

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

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!


resembling the blue of the sky

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Difficult Spelling Words Quiz

  • alphabet-pasta-spelling-help
  • Which is the correct spelling?
Name That Thing

Test your visual vocabulary with our 10-question challenge!


Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.


Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!