Definition of dally in English:



[no object]
  • 1Act or move slowly.

    ‘she'd dallied upstairs long enough to put on a little make-up’
    • ‘Just wear enough if it's chilly and don't dally afterwards!’
    • ‘When I was 12, I dallied before basketball practice until it was late enough that I needed to ask my mother for a ride.’
    • ‘She'd promised the Dean that she would be at his office as soon as she got up, and she had already dallied enough as it was.’
    • ‘Simon will take his place in the back-row, while fly-half Jones can expect to feel the force of his club-mate should he dally on the ball for too long.’
    • ‘Instead he dallies and allows the impetus to drain away from the move with a pass all the way back to Gary Speed who has a forlorn pop from distance.’
    • ‘Sligo players, anxious not to dally, sought to move the ball on with the minimum of fuss.’
    • ‘He dallies long enough to allow Djourou to block his initial shot, but a lucky rebound gives him another chance.’
    • ‘I could imagine the sublime Rita Heywood or Julia Roberts both have been regular visitors to the island over the years dallying over a shore side breakfast.’
    • ‘The list of things he has promised is a good list, but there is no time to dally, whether by land, sea or air.’
    • ‘But if McLeish was the type of person to dally on instances of coincidence and place his faith in fate, he need only look at last term.’
    • ‘She won't have much time to dally on the Prom this week, though.’
    • ‘But by then Livingston should have killed the game when Fernandez dispossessed Murdock again in 67 and cut inside to Lilley who dallied before striking a tame shot wide.’
    • ‘There we would dally through the long night hours until the tinny clock sounded Reveille.’
    • ‘The modern generation knows about lounging in the Lakes and dallying in the Dales, but very little about our local footpaths.’
    • ‘The obvious reality that there is little or no time for dallying when in possession didn't register for some of the players until the game had warmed up.’
    • ‘L. was angry by then, convinced that A. was OK and that he was simply dallying around at his mother's house.’
    • ‘It's a very small-scale event, so please don't dither, dally or delay.’
    • ‘Not one to dally about, Sally quickly gathered up her cast and got them safely out of the building.’
    • ‘From the corner, the Colombian international seized on the ball unmarked at the far post but dallied enough to allow Edmondson a smart block.’
    • ‘Catz dallied on the ball in the left-back slot and the alert Woodcock stole the ball, but he was stopped from finishing at the last gasp.’
    dawdle, delay, loiter, linger, waste time, kill time, take one's time, while away time
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  • 2dally withHave a casual romantic or sexual liaison with.

    ‘he should stop dallying with film stars’
    • ‘For a long time Gianni was known as a playboy, dallying with aristocrats and movie stars before finally sorting out his inheritance.’
    • ‘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.’’
    • ‘Given that Mariella has been dallying with the Guy from the Bank who is twenty-two, I'm wondering whether we should start a national society for well-meaning would-be cradle snatchers.’
    • ‘Charles is in love with Maria; Joseph is courting the same girl for her fortune, while at the same time dallying with Lady Teazle.’
    • ‘In fact I understand that the plural should be employed - there were actually three of them - there was the one he was dallying with in the nightclub, plus the girlfriend, and the recent ex who discovered them.’
    • ‘As anyone who has been listening in over the past few weeks knows, naughty Miss Emma has recently dallied with her fiancé's brother.’
    • ‘You shouldn't have been dallying with your boyfriend over there!’
    • ‘I hit her, I couldn't help myself, I had been watching Fire all day, and she had been dallying with that scum.’
    • ‘In the past NY women might have dallied with a man in uniform, but wouldn't have pursued one.’
    • ‘Others would say that, well, actually Diana was dallying, too.’
    • ‘By dallying with her at Alexandria, he risked losing what he had just won at Pharsalus.’
    • ‘Has he been ordered to stand up there in disgrace, as penance for dallying with Lady Hamilton and asking Hardy to kiss him?’
    • ‘Because you wisely choose not to dally with a guy who could be married for quite a while - for whatever reason - why don't you proceed with No.2 as if there were no No.1?’
    • ‘John can dally with a host of other women but never find in them the revelation of heavenly glory that he beholds after the most awkward kiss with the scholarly Lucy.’
    • ‘They starved together, Minna helped his career, they separated, he dallied with other women, they tried again, they gave up.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘She was probably dallying with that stud Michael.’
    • ‘Mr. Lee is now dallying with younger women, and the middle-aged Ching is desperate to reverse her fading looks and retain her husband's interest in her.’
    • ‘In their cozy little arrangement, he gets the freedom to dally now and then, so long as he keeps to the couple?’
    trifle, toy, play, amuse oneself, flirt, play fast and loose, tinker, philander, womanize, carry on
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    1. 2.1 Show a casual interest in.
      ‘the company was dallying with the idea of opening a new office’
      • ‘Despite its name, however, Canteen's desire to dally with memory and pop-cultural mythology is not as wholehearted or as determined as Isla's.’
      • ‘Indeed, to dally with the theory publicly could do serious damage to a geologist's career.’
      • ‘Others may like to visit the website www (enough dallying with the law - Ed.)’
      • ‘When he is on the verge of lunacy and death, Hester proposes to him that they shall flee to Europe, and for a moment he dallies with the idea.’
      • ‘House of Leaves is proof that in this cyber age, books are not finished yet - they still beckon with mystery; still dally with the unknown and unknowable.’
      • ‘As a woman I feel comfortable folded up in things, you know, practical, not in the abstract, dallying with the emotional side, designing my appearance.’
      • ‘Some regarded him as dallying with nationalism.’
      • ‘In press interviews director Schütte has made no secret of the fact that he has dallied with the real order of events and that occasionally his film strays from historical fact.’
      • ‘It doesn't matter how much of the middle you get if your core vote is off dallying with fringe parties.’
      • ‘Even those who merely dallied with the legend found themselves strangely affected.’
      • ‘I have dallied with the dark side but like Luke, I will never turn.’
      • ‘The Diary then drew from John a semi-promise to vote Labour again next time, although he is still dallying with going Green.’
      • ‘It is a choice some will make in a world where many feel there is less and less time to dally with being rigorous.’
      • ‘You come to win, not to dally with numbers and root for the home team.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘With nothing left for Woods to do but dally with records, it was time to congratulate Pebble Beach for an Open in which the greatest current player in the game won it.’
      • ‘He warned that public figures should not dally with theories that might prove to have no scientific basis.’
      • ‘The artist is a major figure who never puts a foot wrong and remains an example to those dallying with extraneous objects to add to a clean canvas in the name of art.’


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