Definition of dilly-dally in US English:

dilly-dally

verb

[no object]informal
  • Waste time through aimless wandering or indecision.

    ‘don't dilly-dally for too long’
    • ‘This generosity for themselves comes from a congress that continues to dilly-dally over a proposal to raise the minimum wage by a pathetic dollar-an-hour - phased in over the next three years.’
    • ‘He's seen out the season and he hasn't dilly-dallied.’
    • ‘When she emerged - and she never took long, for she wasn't one to dilly-dally - I would step into the hall so that she would see me there waiting and wouldn't be frightened.’
    • ‘His attitude has been to dilly-dally and turn down proposals on firms on trivial grounds.’
    • ‘It's just as important not to dilly-dally while you get it down, too.’
    • ‘Girls, time for class, stop dilly-dallying.’
    • ‘I'm not going to be dilly-dallying around and dancing around the issues.’
    • ‘We're leaving early tomorrow, and I'm not going to be dilly-dallying.’
    • ‘In fact, had they not dilly-dallied, the book would have been out much sooner.’
    • ‘I used to be a fundraiser, and I found that it is best not to dilly-dally too long, but to go ahead and get to ‘the ask’.’
    • ‘While the Minister for Health dilly-dallies, patients lives are at risk and staff are continuing to work in completely unacceptable and intolerable conditions.’
    • ‘Apparently she told the passengers that when they had deplaned and cleared customs, they were to make their way straight home, and not to dilly-dally anywhere, as there was a large amount of civil disturbance going on downtown!’
    • ‘Don't four-year-olds often dilly-dally, stall, and do just about everything slowly?’
    • ‘They cannot dilly-dally with the issue as the deadline has been set.’
    • ‘We were thankful for the time bought for us to dilly-dally.’
    • ‘While they're dilly-dallying, my house is falling apart.’
    • ‘It's never too early to start loitering, and dilly-dallying.’
    • ‘How should we deal with judges who sleep on the bench, dilly-dally over judgments or commit crimes?’
    • ‘Well, I hope he doesn't dilly-dally too much longer.’
    • ‘Oh, do tell me you've not wasted my father's money by spending all of your days dilly-dallying with poetry, rather than studying!’
    waste time, dally, dawdle, loiter, linger, take one's time, delay, mark time, kill time, while away time, potter, trifle, temporize, stall, procrastinate, drag one's feet, play a waiting game
    View synonyms

Origin

Early 17th century: reduplication of dally.

Pronunciation

dilly-dally

/ˈdilēˌdalē//ˈdɪliˌdæli/