Meaning of linger


When someone lingers, he or she takes an unexpectedly long time to depart, as Romeo lingers when bidding Juliet farewell (or as annoying houseguests almost always tend to do).

In addition to its primary meaning of “taking a long time to depart,” linger has the additional meaning of “persisting while gradually weakening.” In this sense, linger can refer to feelings or sensations that slowly fade away, like the smell of perfume that lingers in an elevator after the passengers have exited.

Definitions of linger
  1. verb

    remain present although waning or gradually dying

    “Her perfume
    lingered on”
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    type of:

    persist, remain, stay

    stay behind

  2. verb

    be about


    footle, hang around, lallygag, loaf, loiter, lollygag, lounge, lurk, mess about, mill about, mill around, tarry

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    lurch, prowl

    loiter about, with no apparent aim
    type of:


    have the quality of being; (copula, used with an adjective or a predicate noun)

  3. verb

    take one’s time; proceed slowly



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    belt along, bucket along, cannonball along, hasten, hie, hotfoot, pelt along, race, rush, rush along, speed, step on it

    move fast
    type of:


    move so as to change position, perform a nontranslational motion

  4. verb

    leave slowly and hesitantly



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    type of:

    go away, go forth, leave

    go away from a place

  5. verb

    move to and fro

    “The shy student
    lingered in the corner”


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    type of:

    hesitate, waffle, waver

    pause or hold back in uncertainty or unwillingness

Word Family

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