Definitions

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

  • intransitive v. To stray or fall behind.
  • intransitive v. To proceed or spread out in a scattered or irregular group.
  • n. A scattered or disorderly group, as of people or things.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • v. To stray from the road, course or line of march.
  • v. To wander about; ramble.
  • v. To spread at irregular intervals.
  • n. The act of straggling.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. The act of straggling.
  • intransitive v. To wander from the direct course or way; to rove; to stray; to wander from the line of march or desert the line of battle.
  • intransitive v. To wander at large; to roam idly about; to ramble.
  • intransitive v. To escape or stretch beyond proper limits, as the branches of a plant; to spread widely apart; to shoot too far or widely in growth.
  • intransitive v. To be dispersed or separated; to occur at intervals.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • To roam or wander away, or become separated, as from one's companions or the direct course or way; stray.
  • To roam or wander at random, or without any certain direction or object; ramble.
  • To escape or stretch out ramblingly or beyond proper limits; spread widely apart; shoot too far in growth.
  • To be dispersed; be apart from any main body; stand alone; be isolated; occur at intervals or apart from one another; occur here and there: as, the houses straggle all over the district.
  • To rough-dress (a stone for grinding) by a wriggling motion of the dressing-tool, so as to give a roughened surface; rag.

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

  • n. a wandering or disorderly grouping (of things or persons)
  • v. wander from a direct or straight course
  • v. go, come, or spread in a rambling or irregular way

Etymologies

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

Middle English straglen, to wander.

Examples

  • Sailors straggle back from their nights out on the town

    Archive 2009-04-01

  • She just kept walking, one canvas-clad foot in front of the other, looking sideways at the sunlit ripple of water, gleaming Lincoln memorial in front, straggle of Canada geese strewn on the grass, and then down at Suraiya's feet, clad sensibly today in only half-inch heels, in special consideration of their lunch-time walk on the Mall.

    For the Sake of the Boy

  • Before we review our final round of polling forecasts based on whatever final polls straggle in this morning, let's take a few minutes to ponder that question a little more carefully.

    Could The Polls In Election 2010 Be Wrong?

  • Bush had confidently predicted that the Iraqi "troops will straggle home with no armor, beaten up, 50,000," but they were more numerous than that, and they had extricated lots of armor.

    Geoffrey Wawro: Desert Storm Turns Twenty: What Really Happened in 1991, and Why it Matters, Part II of II

  • Two years later in the crisis of October 1993, it took only a few tank shells to flush a straggle of defiant Supreme Soviet deputies out of the White House.

    The Return

  • He wanted to resume the retreat on the 12th, but destroying supplies and equipment took too much time, and the wounded continued to straggle into camp.

    George Washington’s First War

  • Of the nearly 200 soldiers left in the main party, only 80 managed to straggle back over the Andes to Quito in present-day Ecuador, "so pale and disfigured," according to one observer, "that they were scarcely recognizable."

    Escaping The Rainforest

  • By giving students the power that reading provides, they will no longer straggle behind in classrooms their entire academic career and feel embarrassed to be at school.

    Students Sound Off: High School Senior Believes Graduating Starts With A Love Of Reading

  • (Soundbite of clinking ice in glass) BURNETT: But a few customers still straggle in to sit at the long polished wood bar and order one of the potent margaritas.

    Mexico's Drug War Hits Historic Border Cantinas

  • Do you expect a Quasimodo-like figure, a sneering mustachioed bandit, a straggle-haired witch with a nose wart?

    In Defense Of Trust

Comments

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