Definitions

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

  • transitive v. To move (a small child) up and down on the knees or in the arms in a playful way: "Somebody who was dandled on Queen Victoria's knee must appear an old fogy” ( Edward, Duke of Windsor).
  • transitive v. To pamper or pet.
  • n. Narragansett Bay See seesaw. See Regional Note at teeter-totter.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • v. To move up and down on one’s knee or in one’s arms, in affectionate play, as an infant.
  • v. To treat with fondness, as if a child; to fondle; to toy with; to pet.
  • v. To play with; to put off or delay by trifles; to wheedle.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • transitive v. To move up and down on one's knee or in one's arms, in affectionate play, as an infant.
  • transitive v. To treat with fondness, as if a child; to fondle; to toy with; to pet.
  • transitive v. To play with; to put off or delay by trifles; to wheedle.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • To shake or move up and down in the arms or on the knee, as a nurse tosses or trots an infant; amuse by play.
  • Hence To fondle or make much of; treat as a child; pet; amuse.
  • To play or trifle with; put off with cajolery or trifling excuses; wheedle; cajole.
  • To defer or protract by trifles.

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

  • v. move (a baby) up and down in one's arms or on one's knees
  • v. pet

Etymologies

Origin unknown.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
Compare German dändeln ("to trifle, dandle"), Old Dutch and Provincial German danten, German tand ("trifle, prattle"); Scots dandill ("dander, to go about idly, to trifle"). (Wiktionary)

Examples

  • And as I recline next to Lillian Hellman, I dandle Miss Kathie's adopted baby on my knee.

    Tell-All by Chuck Palahniuk

  • Society existed to dandle them and indulge their fantasies.

    Adam Hanft: Anniversary Irony: How the Woodstock Generation is Sabotaging Health Care Reform

  • (Mother pandas constantly dandle their infants for the same reason.)

    Among the Pandas

  • There was much happiness—Arthur now had a plump baby daughter, Mary, to dandle on his knee—and, thanks to Sherlock Holmes, the wherewithal to do a “proper” Christmas, with all the trimmings.

    Oscar Wilde and the Dead Man’s Smile

  • Three died under our dirks, but the fourth survives; and more would he give to dandle on his knee the fourth child which remains, than to rack these old bones, which care little for the utmost indulgence of his wrath.

    A Legend of Montrose

  • If there were but a few more little masters to dandle and fondle,

    Cecilia

  • She was going to dandle her grandkids on her knees, and they live in far-away Allentown.

    We Can Fix It

  • Ah, Robot Helena, your body will never be a living thing, you will never be anyone's lover, never anyone's mother; those perfect hands of yours will never dandle a newborn babe and you'll never see your beauty in the face of your own children ....

    R.U.R.

  • Did not Mr. Binny, the mild and genteel curate of the district chapel, which the family attended, call assiduously upon the widow, dandle the little boy on his knee, and offer to teach him Latin, to the anger of the elderly virgin, his sister, who kept house for him?

    Vanity Fair

  • Major occasionally to dandle him, need not be told here.

    Vanity Fair

Comments

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  • Once you can manage the hunger, whet and dandle and tease, you want the shortest possible time between werewolf crime and human flight. From "The Last Werewolf" by Glen Duncan.

    March 18, 2012

  • They had not the slightest suspicion of the trick; and were eternally dandling me till I was seven years old.

    - Lesage, The Adventures of Gil Blas of Santillane, tr. Smollett, bk 1 ch. 5

    September 12, 2008