wool·​gath·​er·​ing | \ ˈwu̇l-ˌga-t͟h(ə-)riŋ How to pronounce woolgathering (audio) , -ˌge-t͟h(ə-)riŋ \

Definition of woolgathering

: indulgence in idle daydreaming

Synonyms for woolgathering


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Woolgathering once literally referred to the act of gathering loose tufts of wool that had gotten caught on bushes and fences as sheep passed by. As you might imagine, woolgathering was not the most profitable of enterprises; its practitioners must have seemed to wander aimlessly, gaining little for their efforts. In the mid-16th century, woolgathering began to appear in figurative phrases such as "my wits went a woolgathering"—in other words, "my mind went wandering aimlessly." From there, it wasn't long before the word woolgathering came to suggest foolish or purposeless mind-wandering.

Examples of woolgathering in a Sentence

my woolgathering was abruptly interrupted by a question from the flight attendant
Recent Examples on the Web All this woolgathering about AGAD has inspired me to fire up the Idea Oven again for old time’s sake. Eric Zorn, chicagotribune.com, 30 Apr. 2021

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

First Known Use of woolgathering

1553, in the meaning defined above

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The first known use of woolgathering was in 1553

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Dictionary Entries Near woolgathering



wool grade

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Cite this Entry

“Woolgathering.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/woolgathering. Accessed 23 May. 2022.

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