to linger aimlessly or as if aimless in or about a place: to loiter around the bus terminal.
to move in a slow, idle manner, making purposeless stops in the course of a trip, journey, errand, etc.: to loiter on the way to work.
to waste time or dawdle over work: He loiters over his homework until one in the morning.
verb (used with object)
to pass (time) in an idle or aimless manner (usually followed by away ): to loiter away the afternoon in daydreaming.
Origin: 1300–50;Middle Englishloteren, loytren, perhaps < Middle Dutchloteren to stagger, totter; compare Dutchleuteren to dawdle
Synonyms 1. Loiter, dally, dawdle, idle imply moving or acting slowly, stopping for unimportant reasons, and in general wasting time. To loiter is to linger aimlessly: to loiter outside a building. To dally is to loiter indecisively or to delay as if free from care or responsibility: to dally on the way home. To dawdle is to saunter, stopping often, and taking a great deal of time, or to fritter away time working in a halfhearted way: to dawdle over a task. To idle is to move slowly and aimlessly, or to spend a great deal of time doing nothing: to idle away the hours.1–4. loaf. 2, 3. delay, tarry.
mid-14c., from M.Du. loteren "be loose or erratic, shake, totter" like a loose tooth or a sail in a storm. In modern Du., leuteren "to delay, linger, loiter over one's work." Probably cognate with O.E. lutian "lurk," and related to O.E. loddere "beggar," O.H.G. lotar "empty, vain," Ger. Lotterbube "vagabond,