Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition.

  • noun One who is absent without permission, especially from school.
  • noun One who shirks work or duty.
  • adjective Absent without permission, especially from school.
  • adjective Idle, lazy, or neglectful.
  • intransitive verb To be truant.

from The Century Dictionary.

  • To idle away time or shirk duty; play truant.
  • To waste or idle away.
  • noun A vagabond; a vagrant; an idler.
  • Idle; loitering; given to shirking duty or business, or attendance at some appointed time or place: especially noting children who absent themselves from school without leave.
  • Characteristic of a truant; idle; loitering; wandering.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English.

  • noun One who stays away from business or any duty; especially, one who stays out of school without leave; an idler; a loiterer; a shirk.
  • noun to stray away; to loiter; especially, to stay out of school without leave.
  • adjective Wandering from business or duty; loitering; idle, and shirking duty.
  • transitive verb rare To idle away; to waste.
  • intransitive verb To idle away time; to loiter, or wander; to play the truant.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License.

  • adjective Describing one who is truant, absent without permission, especially from school.
  • noun One who is absent without permission, especially from school.
  • verb intransitive To play truant.
  • verb transitive To idle away; to waste.

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

  • noun someone who shirks duty
  • adjective absent without permission
  • noun one who is absent from school without permission

Etymologies

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

[Middle English, beggar, from Old French; see terə- in Indo-European roots.]

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

From Middle English truant, truand, trewande, trowant (= Middle Dutch trouwant, trawant, truwant), from Old French truand, truant ("a vagabond, beggar, rogue", also "beggarly, roguish"), of Celtic origin, perhaps from Gaulish *trugan, or from Breton truan. Cognate with Scottish Gaelic truaghan, Irish trogha ("destitute"), trogán, Breton truc ("beggar"), Welsh tru.

Examples

Comments

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  • I love the older sense of truant, as "stray, displaced, wandering", used by George Eliot in this passage from The Mill on the Floss, describing the Red Deeps, an area of hollows and hills where Maggie Tulliver enjoyed taking her walks. The place, she says, had a charm for Maggie:

    especially in summer, when she could sit in the grassy hollow under the shadow of a branching ash, stooping aslant from the steep above her, and listen to the hum of insects, like tiniest bells on the garment of Silence, or see the sunlight piercing the distant boughs, as if to chase and drive home the truant heavenly blue of the wild hyacinths.

    — George Eliot, The Mill on the Floss (1860), Book V, chap. 1, "In the Red Deeps"

    December 31, 2012