Definition of loiter in English:

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Pronunciation: /ˈlɔɪtə/


[no object, with adverbial of place]
1Stand or wait around without apparent purpose: she saw Mary loitering near the cloakrooms
More example sentences
  • My only other complaint was the over-attentive waiters, who always seemed to be loitering somewhere nearby, waiting for something to happen or checking that everything was fine.
  • It turns out Risaku's mere hunch became reality and an assassin stood there, loitering in the doorway.
  • You're standing here loitering about in a very suspicious manner.
linger, potter, wait, skulk;
loaf, lounge, idle, laze, waste time, kill time, while away time
informal hang around/round
British informal hang about, mooch about/around
archaic or literary tarry
1.1 [with adverbial of direction] Walk slowly and with no apparent purpose; dawdle: the weather had tempted them to loiter along the banks of the Cherwell
More example sentences
  • Alabaster couples loitered along the garden path, handsome, whole and serene.
dawdle, dally, stroll, saunter, loll, go slowly, take one's time, go/move at a snail's pace, drag one's feet, delay
informal dilly-dally, mosey
British informal mooch


loiter with intent

English Law , dated Stand or wait around with the intention of committing an offence.



Pronunciation: /ˈlɔɪtərə/
Example sentences
  • They look for odd or suspicious behavior: heavy clothes on a hot day, loiterers without luggage, anyone observing security methods.
  • Occasionally some loiterers try to bum a cigarette or an argument breaks out.
  • One option may be to play classical music at the station in a bid to deter loiterers.


Late Middle English: perhaps from Middle Dutch loteren 'wag about'.

Words that rhyme with loiter

exploiter, goitre (US goiter), reconnoitre (US reconnoiter), Reuter

For editors and proofreaders

Line breaks: loi¦ter

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