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loiter

[loi-ter] /ˈlɔɪ tər/
verb (used without object)
1.
to linger aimlessly or as if aimless in or about a place:
to loiter around the bus terminal.
2.
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.
3.
to waste time or dawdle over work:
He loiters over his homework until one in the morning.
verb (used with object)
4.
to pass (time) in an idle or aimless manner (usually followed by away):
to loiter away the afternoon in daydreaming.
Origin
1300-1350
1300-50; Middle English loteren, loytren, perhaps < Middle Dutch loteren to stagger, totter; compare Dutch leuteren to dawdle
Related forms
loiterer, noun
loiteringly, adverb
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.
Dictionary.com Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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Examples from the web for loitering
  • Those who are loitering by the withered tree are waiting for salvation, which never comes.
  • He has a good reason for loitering for hours in the rain on a nearly derelict street notorious for drug-dealing.
  • When there are many, it's worth loitering around the moonflower vine to watch, especially if the night is perfectly still.
  • It was easier to cross to the other side of the street than come face-to-face with loitering menaces with a nose for my fear.
  • There are enough game covers featuring a group of youngsters loitering.
  • The spotted hawk swoops by and accuses me-he complains of my gab and my loitering.
  • All of which could mean more time loitering outside buildings and in alleyways for smokers intent on grabbing a puff.
  • There are always a few loitering around the visitor's center, enticed by the scent of cooking food.
  • Soliciting and loitering within the court environs is prohibited.
  • Watch for suspicious acting people loitering or lurking in the area of parked vehicles.
British Dictionary definitions for loitering

loiter

/ˈlɔɪtə/
verb
1.
(intransitive) to stand or act aimlessly or idly
Derived Forms
loiterer, noun
loitering, noun, adjective
Word Origin
C14: perhaps from Middle Dutch löteren to wobble: perhaps related to Old English lūtian to lurk
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 loitering
n.

mid-14c., verbal noun from loiter.

loiter

v.

early 15c., "idle one's time, dawdle over work," from Middle Dutch loteren "be loose or erratic, shake, totter" like a loose tooth or a sail in a storm; in modern Dutch, leuteren "to delay, linger, loiter over one's work." Probably cognate with Old English lutian "lurk," and related to Old English loddere "beggar;" Old High German lotar "empty, vain," luzen "lurk;" German Lotterbube "vagabond, rascal," lauschen "eavesdrop;" Gothic luton "mislead;" Old English lyðre "base, bad, wicked." Related: Loitered; loitering.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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