daw‧dle /ˈdɔːdl $ ˈdɒː-/ verb [intransitive] to take a long time to do something or walk somewhere:

Don’t dawdle – we’re late already!

dawdle over

I dawdled over a second cup of coffee.

Is "dawdle" a friendly word in everyday conversation or do we have a simpler one?

For example, "don't dawdle along the way and please don't talk to strangers!" or "don't hang about/around along the way and please don't talk to strangers!"?

  • 1
    Dawdle is fine in this context. Dec 23, 2020 at 9:27
  • 1
    My mother said "Don't dawdle!" a lot when I was small. Dec 23, 2020 at 9:46

2 Answers 2


'Dawdle' is definitely not an 'unfriendly' word in that it is used informally, often by parents to children. It is not really a 'positive' word though, as the inference is that time is being wasted, so it is probably less common to hear it said about oneself. However, it works fine - an example in the free dictionary "dawdled through breakfast" is very similar to your example.

A far more common expression in this context would be "I lingered over...". See this ngram for a comparison between similar expressions.

That said, if this is creative writing then it is often better to go with a choice of word or expression that is less common, so long as it works, and I'm fine with it.


It is typical of the phrase "don't dawdle" as spoken by parents to their children. So it is fine in that context.

It is somewhat rarer to use in a positive command, eg "dawdle over".

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