Printable Version
Pronunciation: daw-dl Hear it!

Part of Speech: Verb, intransitive (No object)

Meaning: To delay by moving slowly and aimlessly, to perform some activity lackadaisically, lazily: 'dawdling on the way to school'.

Notes: Today's word is another common word that reached us across an uncommon route (see Word history). It may be used as a noun and the participle, dawdling, may serve as an adjective: "The dawdling dogs delayed delivery of the duck dinner to the dapper dactylographer (finger-print expert)."

In Play: Dawdling can be frustrating to people on a mission: "Don't dawdle so, baby; mommy's favorite soap opera begins in just a few minutes." But dawdling can be a pleasure, too: "The weather is positively inspirational. I think I'll take a walk and dawdle along the river the rest of the day."

Word History: Today's word has shared a path with the people most notorious for dawdling: tots. It is probably a variant pronunciation of daddle "to walk totteringly like a child". Daddle, apparently a variant of dadder, dodder, themselves variants of totter, are frequentative forms of dad "to shake several times by hitting". Tottle (more recently toddle) has been shortened to give us tot "small child just beginning to walk". This verb is a variation of totter with what was once a diminutive ending, fitting for a verb applied mostly to small people.

Dr. Goodword,

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