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[strag-uh l] /ˈstræg əl/
verb (used without object), straggled, straggling.
to stray from the road, course, or line of march.
to wander about in a scattered fashion; ramble.
to spread or be spread in a scattered fashion or at irregular intervals:
The trees straggle over the countryside.
Origin of straggle
1350-1400; Middle English straglen < ?
Related forms
straggler, noun
stragglingly, adverb Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for straggle
Historical Examples
  • Tell Susie, when you get home, that we'll straggle in by supper-time.

    Motor Matt's Race Stanley R. Matthews
  • Complaining not, they straggle down to their bunks to change their clothes.

    The Book of Khalid Ameen Rihani
  • The eight o'clock chimes spoke as Hinton clumped downstairs, and a few moments later Forbes's guests began to straggle in.

    Kathleen Christopher Morley
  • Any man that says I straggle is a liar—exceptin' the colonel, and he's mistaken.

    The Long Roll Mary Johnston
  • It was not until daylight that the head of the column began to straggle into Parco, on the southern road.

    Out with Garibaldi G. A. Henty
  • Do they straggle along so loosely as to escape particular notice?

    The Foot-path Way Bradford Torrey
  • I marched about half an hour and had to fall out of ranks and straggle along as best I could.

    A Soldier in the Philippines Needom N. Freeman
  • Nothing was allowed to straggle, or to take up more than its share of room.

    "Some Say" Laura Elizabeth Howe Richards
  • Save that the last of the runners began to straggle a little, there was no change in the second quarter.

    For the Honor of the School Ralph Henry Barbour
  • We do not find any of our men inclined to straggle, after what they have seen.

    The Cruise of the Mary Rose William H. G. Kingston
British Dictionary definitions for straggle


verb (intransitive)
to go, come, or spread in a rambling or irregular way; stray
to linger behind or wander from a main line or part
Derived Forms
straggler, noun
straggling, adjective
stragglingly, adverb
straggly, adjective
Word Origin
C14: of uncertain origin; perhaps related to strake and stretch
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 straggle

c.1400, "to wander from the proper path, to rove from one's companions," perhaps from a Scandinavian source (cf. dialectal Norwegian stragla "to walk laboriously"), or a frequentative of straken "to move, go." Specifically of soldiers from 1520s. Related: Straggled; straggling.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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