Definition of linger in English:

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Pronunciation: /ˈlɪŋɡə/


[no object]
1Stay in a place longer than necessary because of a reluctance to leave: she lingered in the yard, enjoying the warm sunshine figurative she let her eyes linger on him suggestively
More example sentences
  • It's best if you can stay and linger in this World Heritage Area.
  • We never have a scene linger beyond what is necessary to get the point across.
  • As one magical day follows another, the sun seems to linger longer over the yard arm.
wait around, stay, remain, stay put, wait;
loiter, dawdle, dally, take one's time, lag behind, straggle, dither, potter about/around/round, pause;
procrastinate, stall, delay
informal dilly-dally, stick around, hang around/round, hang on, hang back
archaic or literary tarry
1.1 (linger over) Spend a long time over (something): she lingered over her meal
More example sentences
  • Saturday morning is spent lingering over a massive three course breakfast (those tropical fruits make a fine salad, with just a dash of Cointreau to top up our levels).
  • Perhaps you know the pub which does the most incredible Sunday lunches and whose staff won't mind if you spend all afternoon lingering over a roast and the papers.
  • The evenings were spent lingering over fine wines and cognacs while gymnastic students modelled the latest in Brazilian swimwear.
1.2Be slow to disappear or die: the tradition seems to linger on we are thankful that she didn’t linger on and suffer
More example sentences
  • Many bad habits will linger on and many good ones may disappear but at least the pattern will change a bit.
  • The odour does linger on the breath; it even comes through the pores of the skin but, if we all ate garlic, it wouldn't matter.
  • We see these types of trials linger on for years as a method to win the case.
persist, continue, remain, stay;
be protracted, endure, carry on, last, keep on/up, hold;
survive, abide
informal hang around/round



Pronunciation: /ˈlɪŋɡərə/
Example sentences
  • He said officers should ‘crack down on lingerers’ and was told the council is trying to prevent staff taking a half day sick after weekends and bank holidays without being ill.
  • ‘Please evacuate this facility, the president wishes to use it,’ they would have ordered any lingerers, hardly giving them time to zip up their flies.
  • The best bars attract a diverse clientele, and the Local pulls in post-work lingerers, students, canoodling couples and pre-clubbers in equal measure.


Middle English (in the sense 'dwell, abide'): frequentative of obsolete leng 'prolong', of Germanic origin; related to German längen 'make long(er)', also to long1.

Words that rhyme with linger

churinga, finger, malinger

For editors and proofreaders

Line breaks: lin¦ger

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