Definition of dandle in English:



  • 1 Move (a baby or young child) up and down in a playful or affectionate way.

    ‘he dandled his son on his knee’
    • ‘Sherlock, I used to dandle you on my knee when you were a boy; you and your beloved cloth giraffe!’
    • ‘But he still has time to smile at his wife, and dandle his daughter on his lap.’
    • ‘I pictured my sister, opening drawers while dandling her newborn, and swearing under her breath.’
    • ‘He rumpled the boy's straight dark hair as he dandled him on his knee.’
    • ‘Kuzovkin, embroiled for decades in a hopeless suit for possession of another estate, is overjoyed by the reunion with Olga, whom he, years ago, dandled and indulged with quasi-parental affection.’
    • ‘After Macbeth consults the witches in Act Three, they put him to bed, where he awakens after having dreamed of dandling babies, reading tales to his children, and enjoying the other benefits of family life.’
    • ‘He longs for grandchildren to dandle on his knee through his dotage.’
    bounce, jiggle, ride, dance, toss, pet, rock
    hug, cradle, fondle, cuddle, caress
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1Move (something) lightly up and down.
      ‘dandling the halter rope, he gently urged the pony's head up’
      • ‘She dandled the fruit playfully, kissed it several times, and pretended to juggle it, while laughing with a delicious babbling brook of a laugh.’
      • ‘Rather, my first thought is of the scene in which Tom (wonderfully and perfectly portrayed by Nick Nolte) dandles a priceless violin out the window.’
      • ‘So what if Sweeney buys drinks for Rachel Rabinowitz or Aunt Helen's footman dandles the second parlormaid?’
      • ‘A warrior who had dandled strong men in his arms like infants will never suffer himself to be dandled in the arms of others.’
      • ‘Serena, who was only a girl herself, dandled the doll impressively before her bewildered eyes.’


Mid 16th century: of unknown origin.