Definition of linger in English:



  • 1 Stay in a place longer than necessary because of a reluctance to leave:

    ‘she lingered in the yard, enjoying the warm sunshine’
    figurative ‘she let her eyes linger on him suggestively’
    • ‘The camera lingers lovingly on the visage of David Beckham in the Manchester United dug-out.’
    • ‘We lingered for a few minutes at merchant tents; Zane bought us both swords.’
    • ‘As one magical day follows another, the sun seems to linger longer over the yard arm.’
    • ‘The businessman only looked up when he felt a presence lingering in the doorway.’
    • ‘Apart from walking you to school, she even lingers around for you to change and walk you home.’
    • ‘His lips lingered there for a few seconds, not quite touching, not pulling away.’
    • ‘Abby and Emily were lingering around my hallway, obviously waiting for me.’
    • ‘We never have a scene linger beyond what is necessary to get the point across.’
    • ‘He stared at her, his grey eyes lingering on her lips.’
    • ‘The camera lingers for a few seconds, and audiences let out a collective gasp.’
    • ‘I looked down between my boots, the smile still lingering on my lips.’
    • ‘Don't linger in the doorway as it is considered rude.’
    • ‘But it doesn't linger forever on past glories.’
    • ‘She didn't linger at the back of the pharmacy.’
    • ‘One last question lingered in my mind, and I had no reservations about blurting it out.’
    • ‘Women, children and an occasional man linger in doorways to catch the elusive breeze.’
    • ‘He lingered there for a few seconds, just watching her, as she turned her back to him.’
    • ‘My gaze lingered there a moment longer watching Doug when he turned around and smiled.’
    • ‘It's best if you can stay and linger in this World Heritage Area.’
    • ‘We all have certain silly tunes that linger in our memory but defy identification.’
    wait around, stay, remain, stay put, wait
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1linger over Spend a long time over (something):
      ‘she lingered over her meal’
      • ‘It is a wonderful production that knows how to take its time, lingering over the ship board details rather than striving for nonstop action like most Hollywood blockbusters.’
      • ‘Pictures of yourself as a chubby, wailing baby are likely to be quickly skipped over, while images of your nearest and dearest sporting the cutting-edge fashions of yesterday are worth lingering over.’
      • ‘Christmas is the time we linger over our meals longer than at any other.’
      • ‘The evenings were spent lingering over fine wines and cognacs while gymnastic students modelled the latest in Brazilian swimwear.’
      • ‘If a customer lingers over a product, the cameras zoom in to record facial expressions.’
      • ‘As we were lingering over our desserts, Baklava and a Molten Chocolate Cake with the perfumed Cardamom and Rose ice cream, the chef, Mohamed, surprised us by joining us at our table with a bottle of wine that he kindly shared amongst us.’
      • ‘Saturday morning is spent lingering over a massive three course breakfast (those tropical fruits make a fine salad, with just a dash of Cointreau to top up our levels).’
      • ‘Staying at the Decoplage apartment, they would wake early for breakfast at the Van Dyke Cafe, work out at Idol's Gym, and linger over a Cuban coffee before spending the day at the pool.’
      • ‘If it weren't for the economic need for multiple games, I would take several hours over each hunt, lingering over the figures, letting the hunters scent them as they fall and detecting those that remain.’
      • ‘He lingers over another ‘personal favourite, the forces of conservatism speech of 1999’.’
      • ‘Perhaps you know the pub which does the most incredible Sunday lunches and whose staff won't mind if you spend all afternoon lingering over a roast and the papers.’
      • ‘To prove it, he lingers over the subtle details, no less carefully than the artist himself.’
      • ‘Unlike the cigarette smoker, who draws needily upon the commercially packaged weed, the pipe man takes things slowly, lingering over the rituals of cleaning, filling, tamping.’
      • ‘Rigid chairs and bland decor did not encourage us to linger over coffee, mugged or otherwise.’
      • ‘Call the French snooty, or just demanding, for their attention to good food, good wine, good atmosphere in their restaurants, for lingering over their meals.’
      • ‘Props to the restaurant for not pointedly bringing our check as we were lingering over desert or having them bring us basket after basket of bread to soak up every last drop of sauce from our various dishes.’
      • ‘The camera lingers over his body, reversing the gaze traditionally directed toward the nude female.’
      • ‘In France, diners eat in courses and linger over their lengthy meals.’
      • ‘I buy a few items and linger over coffee, observing the atmosphere.’
      • ‘All that atmosphere means not to linger over the excellent coffee would be churlish.’
    2. 1.2 Be slow to disappear or die:
      ‘the tradition seems to linger on’
      ‘we are thankful that she didn't linger on and suffer’
      • ‘He said it could linger on for a long time unless both sides were willing to make peace.’
      • ‘Many bad habits will linger on and many good ones may disappear but at least the pattern will change a bit.’
      • ‘Ireland will be the richer as the memories linger on, she told the thousands that had gathered.’
      • ‘The suspicion lingered with him that someone was making a joke at his expense.’
      • ‘I saw it in a magazine, and the vision lingered in my memory.’
      • ‘The tea leaves add a unique fragrance to the tender ribs which lingers in the mouth.’
      • ‘Even so, he had a troubling doubt that lingered and stayed with him when he considered his future.’
      • ‘The scent lingering in the hallway was less than comforting.’
      • ‘Questions lingered in my mind, but I was hesitant to ask them.’
      • ‘Even after my mom had finished baking cookies, the smell still lingered in the air when we walked inside.’
      • ‘Leaves had turned black, and an acrid smell lingered in the air.’
      • ‘The odour does linger on the breath; it even comes through the pores of the skin but, if we all ate garlic, it wouldn't matter.’
      • ‘The stereotypes may seem rather weary, but they linger on because, well, because they're still there.’
      • ‘Six decades on, few of the legacies of the war and the independence of its former colony linger on.’
      • ‘The cost of the debt will linger on long after the World Cup has come and gone.’
      • ‘You'll soon forget the bill, but the memory of the food will linger on.’
      • ‘We see these types of trials linger on for years as a method to win the case.’
      • ‘It may be more than four years ago now, but memories linger on.’
      • ‘He shuts his phone and says my name softly and it lingers on his tongue.’
      • ‘Because of the lack of carbonation, the flavor seems nutty and lingers on the palate.’
      persist, continue, remain, stay
      View synonyms


Middle English (in the sense ‘dwell, abide’): frequentative of obsolete leng ‘prolong’, of Germanic origin; related to German längen make long(er), also to long.