- The definition of loiter is to hang around someplace without a reason to be there.
When you hang out at a store without any intent to buy anything, this is an example of a situation where you loiter.
- to linger in an aimless way; spend time idly: often with about
- to walk or move slowly and indolently, with frequent stops and pauses
Origin of loiterMiddle English loitren ; from Middle Dutch loteren (Du leuteren, to dawdle), akin to Old English loddere, beggar ; from Indo-European base an unverified form (s)leu-, to hang loosely from source sleet, slur
intransitive verbloi·tered, loi·ter·ing, loi·ters
- a. To stand idly about; linger without any purpose.b. Law To violate a law or ordinance that prohibits persons from remaining in a given location without a clear purpose for an extended period of time, especially when behaving in a manner indicating a possible threat to persons or property in the vicinity.
- To hover over or remain near an area: Fog loitered over the mountains. A jet loitered in the sky near the airbase.
- To proceed slowly or with many stops: loitered all the way home.
- To act slowly or with leisure; take one's time: “The organist loitered over the keys, making sure of his mastery of the coming Sabbath anthem” (O. Henry).
Origin of loiterMiddle English loitren, probably from Middle Dutch loteren, to totter, be loose.
(third-person singular simple present loiters, present participle loitering, simple past and past participle loitered)
From Middle English loitren, from Middle Dutch loteren (“to shake, wag, wobble”), ultimately connected with a frequentative form of Proto-Germanic *lūtaną (“to bend, stoop, cower, shrink from, decline”), see lout. Cognate with Modern Dutch leuteren (“to dawdle”), Swiss German lottern (“to wobble”), German Lotterbube (“rascal”). More at lout, little.