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[ling-ger] /ˈlɪŋ gər/
verb (used without object)
to remain or stay on in a place longer than is usual or expected, as if from reluctance to leave:
We lingered awhile after the party.
to remain alive; continue or persist, although gradually dying, ceasing, disappearing, etc.:
She lingered a few months after the heart attack. Such practices still linger among the older natives.
to dwell in contemplation, thought, or enjoyment:
to linger over the beauty of a painting.
to be tardy in action; delay; dawdle:
to linger in discharging one's duties.
to walk slowly; saunter along.
verb (used with object)
to pass (time, life, etc.) in a leisurely or a tedious manner (usually followed by away or out):
We lingered away the whole summer at the beach.
Archaic. to draw out or protract.
Origin of linger
1250-1300; Middle English lengeren to dwell, remain (somewhere), frequentative of lengen, Old English lengan to delay, prolong, literally, lengthen. See long1, -er6
Related forms
lingerer, noun
lingeringly, adverb
outlinger, verb (used with object)
overlinger, verb (used without object)
unlingering, adjective
1, 4. tarry. 1, 5. loiter. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for linger
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • linger not in the thoughts of the past, Poppa; it is irrevocable.

    Darkness and Dawn Frederic W. Farrar
  • I fancy the marchioness intends to depart; I prefer to linger awhile.

    Fairy Fingers Anna Cora Mowatt Ritchie
  • To linger over this strange method of feeding is superfluous after what I have said about the Anthrax.

    The Life of the Fly J. Henri Fabre
  • She dare not let them linger there for fear Estelle should perceive her doubts.

  • It is pleasant to linger under these arches and deliver oneself to the pleasures of epigraphy.

British Dictionary definitions for linger


verb (mainly intransitive)
to delay or prolong departure
to go in a slow or leisurely manner; saunter
to remain just alive for some time prior to death
to persist or continue, esp in the mind
to be slow to act; dither; procrastinate
Derived Forms
lingerer, noun
lingering, adjective
lingeringly, adverb
Word Origin
C13 (northern dialect) lengeren to dwell, from lengen to prolong, from Old English lengan; related to Old Norse lengja; see long1
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 linger

c.1300, lenger "reside, dwell," northern England frequentative of lengen "to tarry," from Old English lengan "prolong, lengthen," from Proto-Germanic *langjan "to make long" (cf. Old Frisian lendza, Old High German lengan, Dutch lengen "to lengthen"), source of Old English lang (see long (adj.)). Sense of "delay going, depart slowly and unwillingly" is from 1520s. Related: Lingered; lingering.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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