Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • adj. Intended to delay.
  • adj. Tending to postpone or delay: dilatory in his work habits. See Synonyms at slow.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • adj. Intentionally delaying (someone or something), intended to cause delay, gain time, or defer decision.
  • adj. Slow or tardy.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • adj. Inclined to defer or put off what ought to be done at once; given the procrastination; delaying; procrastinating; loitering.
  • adj. Marked by procrastination or delay; tardy; slow; sluggish; -- said of actions or measures.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • Marked by or given to procrastination or delay; slow; tardy; not prompt: as, dilatory measures; a dilatory messenger.
  • Intended to bring about delay, or to gain time and defer decision: as, a dilatory motion.
  • n. In law, a plea or other proceeding in a suit which is intended to delay the suit without reference to its merits.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • adj. wasting time

Etymologies

Middle English dilatorie, from Latin dīlātōrius, from dīlātor, delayer, from dīlātus, past participle of differre, to delay : dī-, dis-, apart; see dis- + lātus, carried; see telə- in Indo-European roots.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)

Examples

  • There is a questionable sort of beginning, which might be called dilatory, that consists in carrying the literary aspect of the essential facts to the extreme, and making them occupy a deal more valuable space than is rightly theirs.

    Short Story Writing A Practical Treatise on the Art of The Short Story

  • The Senate, by precedent, has ruled such quorum calls dilatory, after cloture.

    The Volokh Conspiracy

  • Gingrich branded the amendment strategy "dilatory" about the nicest thing he said about Democrats.

    Gingrich Goes Ballistic

  • Democrats accused them of using "dilatory" tactics, but the Bushmen plodded on.

    Al At The Brink

  • So it isn't obvious that he broke the law (on balance it seems not), in which case your rather ranting passage (terms such as dilatory, cavalier disregard, blatant disregard all appeared) seems somewhat tendentious and a bit overcooked.

    Sir Ian Blair: Out of Control?

  • With a view of allowing Jake time to "cover his tracks" he resorted to "dilatory" measures.

    Before the War, and After the Union; An Autobiography

  • Lashed out at the team prosecuting him for drunk driving, calling them "unco-operative" and their trial "dilatory";

    IOL: News

  • Smashing through the young Scotsman's media trained response, Snow went through the timetable the PSNI's "dilatory" response remorselessly.

    Slugger O'Toole

  • By precedent, the Senate could make such quorum calls dilatory at any time, if no substantive business had intervened since a quorum had been previously established. www):

    The Volokh Conspiracy

  • Working with majority leader Robert Byrd, I threw out a huge stack of obstructionist amendments with a series of rapid-fire parliamentary rulings because Senate rules required the presiding officer to reject them as nongermane, or “dilatory.”

    The Good Fight

Wordnik is becoming a not-for-profit! Read our announcement here.

Comments

Log in or sign up to get involved in the conversation. It's quick and easy.


  • adj. Intended to delay.
    adj. Tending to postpone or delay: dilatory in his work habits. See Synonyms at slow.
    from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License
    adj. Intentionally delaying (someone or something), intended to cause delay, gain time, or defer decision.
    adj. Slow or tardy.

    September 7, 2013

  • I'm forever mixing this up with the word depilatory.

    September 12, 2012

  • It seems whenever I look up a word, honestly without knowing its meaning, it strikingly describes exactly what I have been experiencing that very day. Today, for example, I am putting off work by looking up words on Wordnik...the first word that popped into my head...dilatory, of course.

    March 27, 2012