Definition of dally in English:

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Pronunciation: /ˈdali/

verb (dallies, dallying, dallied)

[no object]
1Act or move slowly: she’d dallied upstairs long enough to put on a little make-up
More example sentences
  • Sligo players, anxious not to dally, sought to move the ball on with the minimum of fuss.
  • From the corner, the Colombian international seized on the ball unmarked at the far post but dallied enough to allow Edmondson a smart block.
  • It's a very small-scale event, so please don't dither, dally or delay.
dawdle, delay, loiter, linger, waste time, kill time, take one's time, while away time;
amble, plod, trudge, meander, drift;
Scottish & Irish  traik
informal dilly-dally
archaic or literary tarry
2 (dally with) Have a casual romantic or sexual liaison with: he should stop dallying with film stars
More example sentences
  • My friend, both your wife and your housekeeper know that you no longer dally with her, and her loitering in your home is merely charity on your part.
  • By dallying with her at Alexandria, he risked losing what he had just won at Pharsalus.
  • As to his dallying with a 21-year-old, she noted, ‘Welcome sexual behavior is about as relevant to sexual harassment as borrowing a car is to stealing one.’
trifle, toy, play, amuse oneself, flirt, play fast and loose, tinker, philander, womanize, carry on
informal play around, mess about/around
2.1Show a casual interest in: the company was dallying with the idea of opening a new office
More example sentences
  • Similarly, I have gotten email from people ‘warning’ me that I am dallying with heterodoxy because I don't see a big problem with Harry Potter books and I kinda liked the Matrix.
  • Some regarded him as dallying with nationalism.
  • You come to win, not to dally with numbers and root for the home team.





Middle English: from Old French dalier 'to chat', of unknown origin.

  • shilly-shally from mid 18th century:

    People unable to make up their minds whether to do something are likely to ask themselves ‘Shall I?’ repeatedly. With the rhyming impulse also seen in dilly-dally (early 17th century) (dally came from the French for ‘to chat’ in the Middle Ages) and willy-nilly, people in the 18th century mocked this tendency by expanding it to ‘shill I, shall I?’, and so shilly-shally was born.

Words that rhyme with dally

Ali, alley, Allie, Ally, bally, dilly-dally, farfalle, galley, Halley, mallee, Mexicali, pally, Raleigh, rally, reveille, sally, tally, valley

For editors and proofreaders

Line breaks: dally

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