I'm looking for a verb or phrasal verb to fill in the blank in the situation below:

So me and my friend have planned a trip this Saturday and we agreed I would come pick her up at 8 a.m. Saturday comes, I arrive at her place 8 sharp and I'm disappointed to find out that she's still busy combing her hair, putting on makeup, applying sunscreen, choosing the right outfit, so on and so forth. It's been 10 minutes and I'm now impatient. I yell: "Stop _____ and hurry up."

My first thought for the hypothetical situation is "idling" or "procrastinating" but she's clearly preparing for the trip rather than doing something irrelevant or not doing anything at all. Then what would be the word/phrase that fits best here? Or do I have to specify what she's doing, like: "Stop picking clothes, just choose one and hurry up! Stop putting on so much makeup and hurry up!" That would be quite cumbersome in my opinion. Or is there no such concise catch-all word/phrase for "to run around doing everything at the last minute in an inefficient, time-consuming manner" and I can only shout "hurry up" again and again?


15 Answers 15


A common word for the cited context is Stop dawdling!

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Note that since Stop dawdling basically means the same as Hurry up!, you wouldn't necessarily include both.

  • 1
    Historically there’ve been lots of terms for dilly-dallying, many taking about or around, including dither, putter, piddle, fiddle, fidget, futz, fuss, fart, mess, muck, monkey, dork, tinker just to name a few. Certainly dawdle is a venerable word for this activity, and notably one whose register may allow its use in situations where certain colloquial contemporary conversational equivalents might be judged too casual or even too coarse.
    – tchrist
    Commented Jun 21 at 17:21
  • I was surprised to see such a steep rise over just the last couple of decades. Your point about the register (impressively "wide" imho, and not too "low"! :) might be a major factor in the word's impressive revival. Commented Jun 21 at 20:11
  • I don’t associate dawdle with “to run around doing everything...”; dawdling is slow. Commented Jun 22 at 19:16
  • @TinfoilHat: Given the actual example involves a female taking "too long" getting ready to go out (with the further injunction "Hurry up!"), I think we can safely assume run around doing everything is just an irrelevant consequence of the OP not being a native Anglophone. If that truly was part of the context, I wouldn't refer to dawdling in the first place - I'd say something about displacement activity. Commented Jun 22 at 19:30
  • The question has the friend "clearly preparing for the trip" which doesn't fit the definitions at M-W.
    – DjinTonic
    Commented Jun 23 at 9:51

Not a single word, but I would use faffing about:

...doing things in a disorganized way and not achieving very much.


Note that this is only likely to be effective if your friend accepts that she is actually doing things in a disorganised way. It actually says more about you: that your perception is that it is disorganised.

  • 2
    That's a phrasal verb so it's all good. Thank you very much. My only question with it is that it is labeled "UK informal" on Cambridge dictionary, so does it mean it's more of a British thing and American English doesn't use it or rarely uses it? Then what would be the American equivalent?
    – Huỳnh Trọng Nhân
    Commented Jun 21 at 15:56
  • 2
    Yes, it's much more of a British thing than an American thing: books.google.com/ngrams/… Commented Jun 22 at 2:08
  • 3
    You can drop the "about" and get it down to a single word - "stop faffing" is fine
    – Chris H
    Commented Jun 22 at 11:05
  • FWIW I agree with Chris: "stop /faffing/" doesn't imply inactivity, while "stop dithering" or "stop dawdling" (or even "stop primping") definitely do. Commented Jun 22 at 22:04
  • @ChrisH, some people do, some people don't, but "stop faffing about" is the one I hear much more.
    – TonyM
    Commented Jun 23 at 19:36

If your friend's activities are nonproductive/delaying--you can say

Stop futzing (around) and hurry up!

futz (v.)

Colloquial (originally Australian, now chiefly North American).

To occupy oneself in an ineffectual or trifling way; to mess about, to waste time; to fiddle or tinker with something. Chiefly with around.
[OED online]

Informal mainly US
To waste time making small changes to something, touching it, moving it, etc.:

futz around This recipe is great for a quick lunch where you don't want to futz around too much.

Futz with While other people are futzing with their suitcases I am already off the plane.


Fool around —often used with around

futz around without producing any worthwhile music
—John Koegel

"Stop futzing around with those cardboard boxes. We need to go. Now!"
J.C. Eaton; Revved up for Murder (2024)

Kam's acupuncturist was futzing about with the contents of his suitcase and wasn't introduced to me.
Douglas Coupland; JPod (2011)

“I say we go for it and stop futzing around with drive-bys and stakeouts. Let's hit the place around eleven tomorrow night. ..."
Fern Michaels; The Jury (2011)

  • 6
    This is a minced oath for "fuck around."
    – Robusto
    Commented Jun 21 at 18:54
  • 4
    @Robusto Uncertain, says the OED, which mentions other possible derivations. One is the Yiddish arumfartzen, to fart around.
    – DjinTonic
    Commented Jun 21 at 20:34
  • @DjinTonic Yes, I’d have thought Yiddish too: seeing “-tz-” in English words is very unusual, plus it’s very much an “American” phrase rather than British. As it happens “to fart around” is itself a common British English phrase for what the OP’s looking for, although I wouldn’t recommend it, because it also conveys anger and criticism, and could start an argument.
    – KrisW
    Commented Jun 22 at 11:43
  • 2
    In AmE at least, futz has had lost any associated rudeness and can be used as an alternative to fussing or puttering around.
    – DjinTonic
    Commented Jun 22 at 12:19
  • I was just watching a movie this morning where one of the characters used this word in a very similar situation.
    – Barmar
    Commented Jun 22 at 14:31

Stop fussing and hurry up!

fuss verb
To make a fuss; to be in a bustle; to busy oneself restlessly about trifles; to move fussily (about, up and down, etc.). 1792–
[selected attestations]
1876   His wife liked to be fussing about in kitchen and store-room. —F. E. Trollope, Charming Fellow vol. I. xi. 143
1887   I remember the host fussing in and out of the room during the quarter of an hour before dinner. —T. A. Trollope, What I Remember vol. I. xiv. 293
Source: Oxford English Dictionary (login required)

Here are some examples from the Corpus of Contemporary American English:

We asked top stylists nationwide for their solutions to the toughest summer hair problems, so you can stop fussing and start showing off your style. (Magazine)
I keep trying on different sweaters. Each one makes me look dumpier than the last. Vm wasting valuable time, but can't stop fussing. (Fiction)
Your hair looks great. Really. Stop fussing. (TV)


How about "Stop primping and hurry up!"?

primp (M-W)

intransitive verb
: to dress or groom oneself carefully
primps for hours before a date

  • 1
    Sorry to downvote, but this is a very rare word (“to preen” would be a more common synonym) , and it means to beautify oneself carefully, which goes against the sense of "to run around doing everything at the last minute in an inefficient, time-consuming manner" that the OP is looking for.
    – KrisW
    Commented Jun 22 at 11:35
  • @KrisW It is not the rareness that makes it not great. It's the fact the wife was actually doing all sorts of things. primping involves mostly hair and makeup. Maybe smoothing down a skirt.
    – Lambie
    Commented Jun 22 at 15:56


To dither is to go back and forth between various options without making a decision on any of them.

It is affectionate enough in tone to be used in this context, and is in current usage in the sense of being indecisive, especially when faced with a deadline.

  • “The threat of ISIS is just something that I believe very strongly that we cannot take lightly. We cannot dither, we cannot just twiddle our thumbs, or wait and see. We have to act and we have to act soon” - The Daily Beast, 2017 [source]

(As an aside, the computing and electronics technique of “dithering” - adding deliberate noise to an analogue signal before converting it to numerical form - gets its name directly from this verb)


Will you get a move on?

Suggested in the comments, it's perfect for this type of frustrating experience. It already means to hurry, so adding the hurry up is redundant.

According to Google Ngram, compared to stop faffing, stop dawdling, stop fussing, stop fussing around, and stop futzing, it is get a move on that is used most frequently used in works of literature and non-fiction.

Ngram showing that "get a move on" is by far the "winner"

Cambridge Dictionary has this example

Hey, Francine, get a move on or you’ll be late!


I immediately went to dilly-dally when I read this. It's generally applied to indecisive procrastination as I've heard it.

to waste time, especially by being slow, or by not being able to make a decision:

Don't dilly-dally - just get your bags and let's go!



Stop messing around and hurry up!


My first thought, when I saw the question, was actually ... pissing about ... (which may, or may not, be more UK than US).

You could also say ... pissing around ...


Stop pissing about and hurry up


Stop pissing around and hurry up

FWIW, the two mean the same, using around or about doesn't change the meaning nor emphasis.

A more polite, or rather, less crude version is LPH's answer.

Another alternative is mucking about/around, which is neither crude nor impolite.

  • Americans favour screwing around over British fucking about. (Sometimes pissing about/around in BrE, but Americans don't use piss like that regardless of the preposition! :) Commented Jun 22 at 20:27

Dally matches the connotation and denotation of what you’re looking for, I think, although it’s a bit old-fashioned at least in my dialect (Standard American English).

To waste time in trivial activities, or in idleness; to trifle.

To delay unnecessarily; to while away.


  • 2
    The OP says My first thought ... is "idling" or "procrastinating" but she's clearly preparing for the trip rather than doing something irrelevant or not doing anything at all. She still has important jobs to do. Commented Jun 21 at 18:27

(SOED) piddle v.i. Work at something in a trifling or a petty way; busy oneself with trifling matters. Now freq. foll. by about, around.

  • Stop piddling around and hurry up!
  • 4
    Be careful where you say that. It least in my area (US, upper Midwest), piddle/piddling is slang for urinating. Commented Jun 22 at 3:57
  • 1
    @Xavon_Wrentaile — Yes. OED: “euphemistic for piss v. Commented Jun 22 at 14:58

An idiom that fits and perhaps conveys the message more clearly and colloquially than a single word is:

take one's (own) sweet time

chiefly US, informal
: to do something as slowly as one wants even though other people want one to act more quickly

She's taking her own sweet time about finishing the work.


A relevant example in the wild:

"Stop taking your sweet time Laura we need to leave." Marco just always knew how to ruin a good moment.

I grabbed my purse off the vanity and headed out with Marco.



I see that plenty of suitable responses have already appeared. A quite informal one I like that I haven't seen here is "diddley-bopping", or more often "diddley-bopping around". I find myself using it fairly frequently.


Depending on how diplomatic you want to be, you could use one of the following two ways of expressing your frustration with whatever is being done along with your desire that it be stopped immediately:

All right already, let's go! You do know that you can't improve upon perfection, don't you?

Enough already, let's go! I'm afraid it's a lost cause and that you're far beyond the point of diminishing returns.

all right(y) already

Please stop; that's enough. Typically used as an expression of frustration.

All right already! We can have pizza for dinner tonight, just stop whining about it!

All righty already! I'm turning off the TV because I can't watch that movie one more time!

All right already, yes, we can go to the toy store after your doctor's appointment, OK?

Enough already

Stop; that's enough. An imperative for one to stop doing what they're doing.

Enough already! I've heard everything you have to say—now, I need some time to make my own decision.

Enough already! That's all the criticism about my life that I can stand.

You kids have been whining for the last hour—enough already!

both from Idioms.thefreedictionary.com

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