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[won-der-ing] /ˈwɒn dər ɪŋ/
moving from place to place without a fixed plan; roaming; rambling:
wandering tourists.
having no permanent residence; nomadic:
a wandering tribe of Indians.
meandering; winding:
a wandering river; a wandering path.
an aimless roving about; leisurely traveling from place to place:
a period of delightful wandering through Italy.
Usually, wanderings.
  1. aimless travels; meanderings:
    Her wanderings took her all over the world.
  2. disordered thoughts or utterances; incoherencies:
    mental wanderings; the wanderings of delirium.
seemingly aimless or random movement or locomotion by a person with a mental disorder or cognitive impairment:
Wandering by Alzheimer’s patients is a problem in nursing homes.
See also elopement (def 2).
Origin of wandering
before 1000; Middle English (noun, adj.), Old English wandrigende (adj.). See wander, -ing2, -ing1
Related forms
wanderingly, adverb
wanderingness, noun
unwandering, adjective
unwanderingly, adverb


[won-der] /ˈwɒn dər/
verb (used without object)
to ramble without a definite purpose or objective; roam, rove, or stray:
to wander over the earth.
to go aimlessly, indirectly, or casually; meander:
The river wanders among the rocks.
to extend in an irregular course or direction:
Foothills wandered off to the south.
to move, pass, or turn idly, as the hand or the eyes.
(of the mind, thoughts, desires, etc.) to take one direction or another without conscious intent or control:
His attention wandered as the speaker droned on.
to stray from a path, place, companions, etc.:
During the storm the ship wandered from its course.
to deviate in conduct, belief, etc.; err; go astray:
Let me not wander from Thy Commandments.
to think or speak confusedly or incoherently.
(of a person with a mental disorder or cognitive impairment) to move about or walk in a seemingly aimless or random manner.
verb (used with object)
to travel about, on, or through:
He wandered the streets.
Mechanics. the drift of a gyroscope or a similar device.
before 900; Middle English wandren, Old English wandrian (cognate with German wandern), frequentative of wendan to wend; see -er6
Related forms
wanderer, noun
outwander, verb (used with object)
1. range, stroll. 2. saunter. 6. swerve, veer. 8. ramble, rave. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for wandering
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • Such is the gift of wandering people; they feel and know in advance.

    The Phantom Violin Roy J. Snell
  • He had been wandering about a long time—not in years, for he was less than thirty.

    K Mary Roberts Rinehart
  • He was wandering disconsolately on the shore when Bessie approached him.

  • For perhaps an hour Joe Drummond had been wandering up and down the Street.

    K Mary Roberts Rinehart
  • The history of the wandering Jews is full of miracles and wonders.

    Bible Romances George W. Foote
British Dictionary definitions for wandering


verb (mainly intransitive)
(also transitive) to move or travel about, in, or through (a place) without any definite purpose or destination
to proceed in an irregular course; meander
to go astray, as from a path or course
(of the mind, thoughts, etc) to lose concentration or direction
to think or speak incoherently or illogically
the act or an instance of wandering
Derived Forms
wanderer, noun
wandering, adjective, noun
wanderingly, adverb
Word Origin
Old English wandrian; related to Old Frisian wandria, Middle Dutch, Middle High German wanderen
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for wandering



Old English wandrian "move about aimlessly, wander," from West Germanic *wandrojan (cf. Old Frisian wondria, Middle Low German, Middle Dutch wanderen, German wandern "to wander," a variant form of the root represented in Old High German wantalon "to walk, wander"), from root *wend- "to turn" (see wind (v.)). In reference to the mind, affections, etc., attested from c.1400. Related: Wandered; wandering. The Wandering Jew of Christian legend first mentioned 13c. (cf. French le juif errant, German der ewige Jude).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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wandering in Medicine

wandering wan·der·ing (wŏn'dər-ĭng)
Moving about freely; not fixed; abnormally motile.

The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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wandering in the Bible

of the Israelites in the wilderness in consequence of their rebellious fears to enter the Promised Land (Num. 14:26-35). They wandered for forty years before they were permitted to cross the Jordan (Josh. 4:19; 5:6). The record of these wanderings is given in Num. 33:1-49. Many of the stations at which they camped cannot now be identified. Questions of an intricate nature have been discussed regarding the "Wanderings," but it is enough for us to take the sacred narrative as it stands, and rest assured that "He led them forth by the right way" (Ps. 107:1-7, 33-35). (See WILDERNESS.)

Easton's 1897 Bible Dictionary
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