Definition of meander in US English:



  • 1no object, with adverbial of direction (of a river or road) follow a winding course.

    ‘a river that meandered gently through a meadow’
    • ‘The area grew and prospered during the Industrial Revolution, but it's now an oasis of green calm, where canals and rivers meander through hills dotted with sheep and dry-stone walls.’
    • ‘The Inn River meanders through the countryside like an unbroken silver thread.’
    • ‘We were surrounded by the immense silence of the flat land of Atwam, where the Pit River meanders towards the sea.’
    • ‘Beyond, the Endeavour River meanders serpentine-fashion to the ocean.’
    • ‘The streets that he would have had to follow meandered all over town, and he could not afford to be seen.’
    • ‘She stopped as she came to a small stream meandering through the dense undergrowth.’
    • ‘She pointed to where the road meandered toward a small stream.’
    • ‘The road meandered down to the pond, lined by birches on either side, to the manor house, which stood to the left of and slightly behind the house as one approached it.’
    • ‘Great Lakes steelhead and salmon and some lake trout begin their lives in the Pere Marquette River, a pretty stream that meanders through the area on its way to Lake Michigan.’
    • ‘Ali led the way to a place where the river meandered away from the road, looping around a tall stand of deciduous forest that stood alone like an island.’
    • ‘Its springs and mountain streams feed large aquifers and the slender Humboldt River, which meanders nearly 400 miles west from its beginnings in the northeast corner of the state.’
    • ‘Flying in, I had been mesmerized by sinuous curves of sloughs and streams which wove together, then apart, meandering toward the gulf.’
    • ‘The river Maigue meanders through the 840-acre estate and forms the backbone of the Adare course.’
    • ‘The Tungabhadra river meanders gently through, and at night the boulder-strewn landscape has an almost magical quality.’
    • ‘A waterfall cascaded behind it, the tower surrounded by the pool at the foot of the falls, and a brook meandered away from it.’
    • ‘Is it a main road or a road that meanders through many towns?’
    • ‘In places the road will meander and curve to draw attention to the landscape.’
    • ‘A small, crystal clear spring meandered through the center, running the diameter.’
    • ‘As I did so, a figure walking along the road that curved gently with the land toward our farm and meandered past our house, caught my eye.’
    • ‘Sam's backyard was small in relative size to the field west of her house, the forest east of her house, and the river meandering through the back of the property.’
    zigzag, wind, twist, turn, curve, curl, bend, snake
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    1. 1.1 (of a person) wander at random.
      ‘kids meandered in and out’
      • ‘The pair were quiet at first as they meandered through the people and streets.’
      • ‘She hadn't notice the pair of dark eyes gazing at her as she meandered up the aisle occasionally picking up a book and reading the blurb.’
      • ‘We do get a little footage of him picking flowers outside his tract house, and meandering through a graveyard.’
      • ‘I meandered until I ended up on the road to the Castle on the Hill.’
      • ‘The guests mingled around, listening to the ever present background music, meandering towards us, the happily engaged couple, to congratulate us.’
      • ‘Omid took some time to meander and wander through the Game Developer Conference in San Jose last week.’
      • ‘After meandering through the house for a little bit, I came to a stop in the living room, where I decided to watch TV.’
      • ‘Everyone was wandering around town, meandering.’
      • ‘She meandered the streets aimlessly, little sandals patting against the cobblestones - following half a thought and half a memory.’
      • ‘Tourists and locals alike meandered along the main street, which was lined with small boutiques, shops, restaurants, and a couple of bars.’
      • ‘He used that excuse to meander aimlessly around the cotton fields; sometimes, he would walk clear across the plantation, and sit between the rows for hours, just thinking.’
      • ‘My keen eyes found a small kid meandering around the area aimlessly.’
      • ‘Whether it was a sudden, temporary insomnia or just mental restlessness, I meandered out of the sleeping house and onto the dark beach.’
      • ‘We both followed the waitress as she meandered through the tables and booths.’
      • ‘They meandered listlessly though the crowd and Spade accidentally bumped into someone.’
      • ‘I meandered up the track road and into the heart of our little town.’
      • ‘He meanders through the crowd, looking for anyone to sate his primal desires.’
      • ‘Just then, he spotted them meandering down the road.’
      • ‘Patricia Schultz has suffered from wanderlust ever since she meandered away from the family beach blanket at age 4.’
      • ‘As we meandered towards the shoreline, my heart weighed heavy as the reality of my future appeared bleak.’
      stroll, saunter, amble, wander, roam, ramble, rove, drift, maunder, stray, straggle
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    2. 1.2 (of a speaker or text) proceed aimlessly or with little purpose.
      ‘a stylish offbeat thriller which occasionally meanders’
      • ‘It meanders where it should inspire and it drifts where it should progress.’
      • ‘Other tracks distinctly lack progression; a drum loop plods along with murky synth bass lines only to cut off suddenly, or meander without significant development or resolution.’
      • ‘Unfortunately, Allen can't maintain this consistent level of humor or energy, and Small Time Crooks begins to meander aimlessly.’
      • ‘Thoughts meandered through her brain, and they were quite unorganized.’
      • ‘And yet Warm Water meanders aimlessly towards a sentimental conclusion, introducing eccentric characters along the way who are never followed up.’
      • ‘Meanwhile my thoughts drifted and sifted, meandering here and there as I thought about the people walking into the building, all dressed up.’
      • ‘The film isn't really about anything; it just meanders along.’
      • ‘The plot itself is far from coherent and often meanders.’
      • ‘It just meanders along on nothing more than a song and a flourish of some pretty costumes.’
      • ‘While her voice is still as silky as ever, it meanders without purpose, never grabbing and twirling the way that it has previously.’
      • ‘Aas soon as I let down my guard a thought of Gavin would meander into my brain and make as much noise as it could.’
      • ‘He allows plot points and characters to meander around meaninglessly, while avoiding obvious elements like purpose and plausibility.’
      • ‘Though it meanders at points, there is a lesson in here for the youngsters drawn to the media by the ‘glamour’.’
      • ‘I had just taken Claire home at around 11:00 a.m and was once again cruising around in my car, thoughts meandering around my head.’
      • ‘Occasionally songs do meander and merge into one another, lost in the acoustic haze.’
      • ‘The film has no real energy; it just sort of meanders its way to the finale.’
      • ‘A couple of tracks meander aimlessly so that by the end of the album I'm left with the feeling that the band didn't quite know which direction to take.’
      • ‘This point-of-view tale meanders and stumbles in a blurry daze with characters coming and going.’
      • ‘My thoughts meandered and moseyed as my eyelids grew heavy.’
      • ‘At times, though, the album meanders pointlessly and becomes slow and uninspired.’
      ramble, prattle, maunder, prate, blather, blether, blither, drivel, chatter, rattle, drift
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usually meanders
  • 1A winding curve or bend of a river or road.

    ‘the river flows in sweeping meanders’
    • ‘Awkwardly sited on the river meander, the bridge has an uncomfortable relationship with the freeway.’
    • ‘Shreve, in a move of astonishing hubris, decided in 1831 to dredge a five-mile shortcut across a long meander on the Mississippi, saving 18 river-miles.’
    bend, loop, curve, twist, turn, turning, coil, zigzag, oxbow, convolution
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    1. 1.1in singular A circuitous journey, especially an aimless one.
      ‘a leisurely meander around the twisting coastline road’
      • ‘Another meander takes us into the house of a female healer.’
      • ‘Quite apart form this, a slow meander down the Siq establishes the mystery of this ‘lost’ city and builds up a sense of anticipation around every corner.’
      • ‘I will be writing about costs of living, food and booze on a slow meander in the sun.’
      wander, ramble, stroll, saunter, amble
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    2. 1.2 An ornamental pattern of winding or interlocking lines, e.g., in a mosaic.
      • ‘Works called ‘folded loops’ resemble meanders or mazes, with every line bending back on itself.’
      • ‘Subsidiary zones are filled by key meanders among other rectilinear motifs; there may also be friezes of goats and deer, derived from Levantine sources.’
      • ‘Contributing to this impression was not only the shape-on-top-of-shape appearance but that work's random meander.’


Late 16th century (as a noun): from Latin maeander, from Greek Maiandros, the name of a river (see Menderes).