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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
Historical Examples
  • In my own brigade there was no straggling, or, if any, so little that it did not come to my notice.

  • The offence of straggling is generally considered not serious.

    The Leopard Woman Stewart Edward White
  • Mechanically, sweeping back the straggling lock of hair, she raised herself without removing her eyes.

    The Strollers Frederic S. Isham
  • His grey hair was straggling into the puddle around his head.

    L'Assommoir Emile Zola
  • We gathered, too, some idea of the size of the town from the straggling suburbs that extend out a long way up the Parramatta.

    Forty Thousand Miles Over Land and Water Lady (Ethel Gwendoline [Moffatt]) Vincent
  • It was written in pencil in large and straggling characters.

    The Eternal City Hall Caine
  • In a few moments the judge appeared, his rosy face surrounded by a straggling white beard.

    After the Divorce Grazia Deledda
  • His eyes were wash-blue, and his straggling mustache drooped at the corners.

  • That was not many, it is true, for his house was the last of the straggling village.

  • Monk Soham is a straggling parish of 1600 acres and 400 inhabitants.

    Two Suffolk Friends Francis Hindes Groome
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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