Definition of wander in US English:



[no object]
  • 1Walk or move in a leisurely, casual, or aimless way.

    ‘he wandered aimlessly through the narrow streets’
    • ‘As he wandered along the road to the bus station he felt strangely hollow and remained silent on the journey to Horsham.’
    • ‘And there was a loony-looking guy wandering around the road and everyone was staring at him.’
    • ‘According to myth, Irish Travellers are a group who were dispossessed by the famine and they were forced to wander the roads by British colonialism.’
    • ‘As I was looking for a place to stay I wandered off Jomtien Beach Road and noticed what I thought would be a reasonably quiet place to stay.’
    • ‘It's compounded as I wander up the road in search of refreshment.’
    • ‘When it was lunchtime on his first day he wandered across the road to the recreation ground which had a small grandstand.’
    • ‘Giving up on the idea of watching the first run of the show, we wandered back down the road to get front row seats for the second leg.’
    • ‘He took a couple of cans, made sure others saw, and wandered up the road toward home drinking.’
    • ‘Serious traffic accidents were narrowly avoided as numerous motorists were forced to swerve to avoid the animals that were wandering along the main road at Fossa.’
    • ‘He stuck his hands in his pocket and wandered off down the road.’
    • ‘If people know generally that dingoes, kangaroos, emus and brumbies are likely to wander onto the road, they are aware of it and they drive accordingly.’
    • ‘He wandered on down the road, tears streaming down his cheeks, the questions whirling in his brain.’
    • ‘I wandered up the road to take a closer look at the mayhem.’
    • ‘He laughed and wandered farther down Moonglow Road until he came to a lone house on the deserted street.’
    • ‘My mum had called the police after seeing Mikey in a distressed state, wandering up the road when it was gone midnight.’
    • ‘We looked at the Falls, which were quite foggy, then wandered down the road a little bit to try to see the Canadian Falls better.’
    • ‘At Leeds he wanders around the Elland Road ground, chatting happily with groundstaff, physios, doormen and pampered millionaire footballers alike with the same easy familiarity.’
    • ‘Anyway, after work I wandered down a lovely road in a studenty part of town and picked up some food and some wine.’
    • ‘We turned a corner of the road and wandered down another street much the same as the others.’
    • ‘There is green slime on the grass, the pavement and the road and the geese cause almost continual hold-ups for the traffic by wandering about on the road.’
    stroll, amble, saunter, walk, dawdle, potter, ramble, maunder, meander
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    1. 1.1 Move slowly away from a fixed point or place.
      ‘please don't wander off again’
      figurative ‘his attention had wandered’
      • ‘If you're meditating to calm your mind and your attention wanders, slowly return to the object, sensation or movement you're focusing on.’
      • ‘So I'm going to wander off now and check that I'm listed on.’
      • ‘An investigation into how the boys managed to wander off from carers following the day trip to the Pleasureland theme park in Southport has now been launched.’
      • ‘But the superintendent of police said the prisoner was the sort to wander off, and so magistrates refused his request and sent him back to jail.’
      • ‘It's just that the wealthy are notoriously able to find ways of minimising their payments, are inclined to wander off to some other place and not pay tax here at all.’
      • ‘Rather it's the incoherent screenplay, direction which jerks from one improbable setting to another and lets itself wander off into teen romance.’
      • ‘After some running around and playing, Thena settled down and spent most of the evening sleeping on me, even returning after I'd wander off to go do something else.’
      • ‘I expected him to wander off at that point (after all, cute guys don't bother to talk to me much), but he stayed around and chatted with me.’
      • ‘To be an effective literary enthusiast, the unspoken goal is to wander off the beaten track and find the titles that no one else has read.’
      • ‘Finally they wander off to enjoy the happy hippy vibe of the summer day - to join in the workshops, dance wildly, eat felafel, and swim in the drinkable creek.’
      • ‘As we lay down in our sleeping bags, we slowly let our minds wander off and let our thoughts seek peace.’
      • ‘The company ate their food and began to slowly in little groups wander off outside the cave.’
      • ‘So I wander off to find someone official looking, who tells me to wait for the next train, due at 18: 45.’
      • ‘He picked up the harmonica early on and, as a kid, used to wander off to the woods to improvise‘where only the trees could hear me.’’
      • ‘I wander off as I'm listening to him, a little way from the path.’
      • ‘But instead of being thankful that you have been reminded about this event the mind tends to wander off and take a momentum of its own.’
      • ‘Her hands felt the cold stone, moving with each step so that she may not wander off.’
      • ‘His attention's always seeking to wander off: it's only in a crisis that he feels he is where he wants to be.’
      • ‘Sometimes I get scared that I'll wander off like that, and not quite be conscious of what I'm doing, and just go completely mad and never come back!’
      • ‘A deadly combination: half has played already and wants to wander off; the other half gets itchy waiting for their turn.’
      stray, depart, diverge, veer, swerve, deviate, digress, vary, drift, get separated, get sidetracked, go wool-gathering
      get lost, lose one's way, go off course, lose one's bearings, go astray, go off at a tangent
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    2. 1.2 (of a road or river) wind with gentle twists and turns in a particular direction; meander.
      meander, wind, twist, turn, curve, zigzag, bend, snake, worm
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    3. 1.3with object Move or travel slowly through or over (a place or area)
      ‘she found her wandering the streets’
      • ‘While wandering the area you can explore the Tipi maze, petting zoo, live music, and pumpkin patch.’
      • ‘Her mother had sent her shopping with a maid, and now she was wandering the marketplace, searching for various materials.’
      • ‘Even what was supposed to be the ultimate taboo, murder, has been demystified and wanders our streets aimlessly every other weekend.’
      • ‘Raydeana tuned out his words again, watching the people wander the streets around her.’
      • ‘We did see loads of deer though, and right in the township happily wandering the streets trying to con food off people.’
      • ‘There is a significant number of people of east European and Oriental extraction wandering the streets of York at any given time.’
      • ‘The fox wandered the area, and went a little ahead, finding not much, besides a few more berries that had not yet spoiled in the coming winter.’
      • ‘The four of them wandered the sidewalks and parks half of the time looking for their undeclared leader, and the other half of the time they just had fun.’
      • ‘Unable to sleep, Roza took to wandering the castle aimlessly, once again prey to her restless and relentless torment.’
      • ‘Even if I were dead, he left me to wander the desolate battlefield, my soul forever in turmoil in such a place.’
      • ‘I have fond memories of wandering our farm, bringing my father his lunch during the spring field work.’
      • ‘There are wild-looking cats wandering the open areas and this might upset the very sensitive.’
      • ‘Morodiel had been wandering the park for fifteen minutes since that Yossirian guy had left.’
      • ‘He said that people were not safe because of the amount of hounds wandering the streets of the town.’
      • ‘I watched him wandering the room in circles, having no idea what he did with me the night before.’
      • ‘When he's not here, I often see him just wandering the area.’
      • ‘Finally, the same irony that wandered the killing fields of the Sudan, like the ghost of murdered rationality, has returned to haunt the ruins of Iraq.’
      • ‘He wandered the seedy areas with his eyes wide open and his camera at the ready.’
      • ‘Apart from these, Indian wandering monks traveled the breadth and length of this whole area.’
      • ‘Wednesday is a free day so Liz can wander the area on her own or take part in an optional trip with the group to Granada.’
      travelling, rambling, roaming, roving, journeying, drifting, itinerant, floating, wayfaring, voyaging, touring
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    4. 1.4 Be unfaithful to one's spouse or regular sexual partner.
      • ‘They expect the spark to be everlasting, they expect eyes to never wander, etc.’
      • ‘Before contraception, many people did not feel they could wander from relationship to relationship and so they worked on the one they had, they made an effort.’


  • An act or instance of wandering.

    ‘she'd go on wanders like that in her nightgown’
    • ‘I've just been out for a wander, and to get a sandwich.’
    • ‘I have to resist the temptation to go for a wet wander.’
    • ‘Simply take a wander down the Todd Mall on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday between 11.30 and 1.30 to check out the bevy of local talent.’
    • ‘This week I would ask readers to take a look around Kilmead and maybe have a wander up around the Moat of Ardscull.’
    • ‘Having had a wander and my fill of tall mast sailing ships and sea (but particularly small uncontrolled children), I decided to head for home.’
    • ‘Looking it up in the guidebook, I saw that it was the highest point in the whole city, so made that my next mission, expecting it to be a simple wander down my hill and up the next one.’
    • ‘The Museo de las Culturas de Oaxaca is in a former monastery and a wander around the airy cloisters or in the excellent cacti garden offer a respite from any cases of museum fatigue.’
    • ‘We also had a wander into a couple of shops and I made great use of my two new shopping philosophies gleaned from a very brief reading of Brenda's Wardrobe Companion.’
    • ‘The Saturday was pretty typical - I took Rebecca out to the supermarket, and then looked after her for the afternoon while Heather went into town for a wander.’
    • ‘Had a wander round her garden, which I planned out for her just before I left home in 1999-and although I say it myself, it looks bloody marvellous!’
    • ‘Then, when I get back I'll be house sitting up in Paekakariki - so drop me an email if you want to come and visit for lunch and a wander on the beach.’
    • ‘I went for a wander around the Castle yesterday, then down the Royal Mile and back along Princes Street.’
    • ‘We queued for a while to get in and had a wander round the outer precincts and courtyards before touring the spectacular State Apartments.’
    • ‘I am sure I have actually seen the Funeral CD on some shelf in some shop during my wanders.’
    • ‘So before I go have a wander over for a visit, here are some linky dinks.’
    • ‘Having seen two tours set off, I go for a wander round Parliament Square.’
    • ‘But after an hour-long wander round Grosmont and a visit to the railway's engine sheds, that was enough fresh air and rain clouds.’
    • ‘It is nice for a couple of hour's stroll, and you can combine it with a wander around the golf course.’
    • ‘We got off at the south end of the loop and had a wander around breathing the place in, before heading for the art institute.’
    • ‘Rick wasn't there yet, so I went for a wander around some of the shops which were there and spotted a few targets to acquire with my ill-gotten gains.’
    stroll, amble, saunter, walk, roam, meander, dawdle, potter, ramble
    View synonyms


Old English wandrian, of West Germanic origin; related to wend and wind.