intr.v. lin·gered, lin·ger·ing, lin·gers
1. To stay in a place or be slow in leaving it, often out of reluctance: Friends lingered at the picnic tables, chatting. See Synonyms at stay1.
a. To continue or persist: a smell that lingered in the air; doubts that lingered in my mind.
b. To remain feebly alive for some time before dying.
3. To proceed slowly; saunter: "the careless grace and dignity with which she lingered along the garden path" (Henry James).
4. To devote considerable time to something, especially in a leisurely fashion: We lingered over the question for an hour.
[Middle English lengeren, frequentative of lengen, to prolong, from Old English lengan; see del-1 in the Appendix of Indo-European roots.]
The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2020 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
Indo-European & Semitic Roots Appendices
Thousands of entries in the dictionary include etymologies that trace their origins back to reconstructed proto-languages. You can obtain more information about these forms in our online appendices:
The Indo-European appendix covers nearly half of the Indo-European roots that have left their mark on English words. A more complete treatment of Indo-European roots and the English words derived from them is available in our Dictionary of Indo-European Roots.