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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 straggler
  • Here's why: when surgeons remove a tumor, they inevitably leave behind a few straggler cancer cells.
  • Two stars merge to form a blue straggler in an artist's conception.
  • Tellingly, this is a market where the company is a straggler rather than a leader.
  • But there's always one straggler that stays in the pot and, once dry, will never leave again.
  • If you were a straggler out by yourself, you were a sitting duck for the submarines.
  • Not a straggler, only the killed and wounded, dropped from the ranks.
  • In fact, it may help a weakened straggler refuel for the long haul.
  • Then, every once in a while, a straggler letter of complaint would come in and it would have nothing to do with us.
  • If she had, she would have noticed she had a straggler.
British Dictionary definitions for straggler


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
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Word Origin and History for straggler



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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