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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 straggling
  • There is van support to carry luggage and scoop up any straggling riders.
  • Bitterly crosses the street to a single-story concrete building half hidden under a straggling cloak of ivy.
  • After surgery to remove the primary tumor, a patient would undergo the treatment to remove any straggling cancer cells.
  • Northern catalpa, growing in the open, usually has a rather short crooked trunk and thick straggling branches.
  • They often gather in flocks of several hundred and fly to feeding grounds in long straggling lines.
  • straggling ants are scouts randomly searching for food or nesting sites.
  • Reference to the weaknesses of the straggling plantations.
  • straggling stampeders began looking for somewhere else to find their fortune.
  • Maybe the kids are dressed and ready to go outside but another group is still straggling.
  • Naturally, this longitudinal emittance should rise due to straggling and the negative slope of energy loss with energy.
British Dictionary definitions for straggling


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 straggling



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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