lin·​ger ˈliŋ-gər How to pronounce linger (audio)
lingered; lingering ˈliŋ-g(ə-)riŋ How to pronounce linger (audio)

intransitive verb

: to be slow in parting or in quitting something : tarry
fans lingered outside the door
: to remain existent although often waning in strength, importance, or influence
lingering doubts
lingering odors
: to remain alive although gradually dying
was seriously ill, but lingered on for several months
: to be slow to act : procrastinate
He lingered in settling the estate in order to increase his fees.
: to move slowly : saunter
lingering homeward

transitive verb

: to pass (a period of time) slowly
obsolete : delay
lingerer noun
lingeringly adverb

Example Sentences

The tourists didn't linger very long. She lingered at the art exhibit. He lingered in bed and missed breakfast. They lingered over coffee after dinner. The heat lingered long after the sun had gone down. The smell of her perfume lingered. The idea lingered in their minds. See More
Recent Examples on the Web Such a proposal is met with disdain by U.S. officials; ill will continues to linger between U.S. and Brazilian diplomats over Lula’s thwarted gambit in 2010 to find a resolution to the threat posed by Iran’s nuclear program. Ishaan Tharoor, Washington Post, 10 Feb. 2023 For some, the issue was not so much whether the balloon should have been left to linger over Montana, but why it was allowed to get there in the first place. Jim Robbins, New York Times, 3 Feb. 2023 Dry, southwest winds combined with sunny skies have caused the unseasonably warm front to linger over Dallas-Fort Worth, said Patricia Sanchez, a meteorologist with the weather service in Fort Worth. Sarah Bahari, Dallas News, 11 Jan. 2023 Efforts to enact industry-wide solutions, such as Time’s Up, have stalled, while questions linger over what accountability should look like, especially for Hollywood’s most influential figures. Shirley Li, The Atlantic, 25 Nov. 2022 The weather system was continuing to linger over the area, with concerns about nuisance flooding persisting. Shannon Larson,, 6 Sep. 2022 High summer temperatures have been the norm in California, but what makes this heatwave especially dangerous is the length of time it's forecast to linger over much of the state. Aya Elamroussi, CNN, 2 Sep. 2022 Inside, locals linger over waffles, cyclists crush cold brew, and plates of eggs Florentine whip across the room like frisbees. Ali Francis, Bon Appétit, 24 Aug. 2022 Monsoon rains are causing a flash flooding threat to linger over a large swath of the Western U.S. following several flooding events overnight. Julia Jacobo, ABC News, 21 Aug. 2022 See More

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

Word History


Middle English (northern dialect) lengeren to dwell, frequentative of lengen to prolong, from Old English lengan; akin to Old English lang long

First Known Use

14th century, in the meaning defined at intransitive sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of linger was in the 14th century

Dictionary Entries Near linger

Cite this Entry

“Linger.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 24 Mar. 2023.

Kids Definition


lin·​ger ˈliŋ-gər How to pronounce linger (audio)
lingered; lingering -g(ə-)riŋ How to pronounce linger (audio)
: to be slow in quitting a place or activity
lingered in bed
: to be slow to act
lingerer noun
lingeringly adverb

More from Merriam-Webster on linger

Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
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