What is the difference between the words "Wandering" and "Roaming"? Don't both of them mean an aimless movement?

In Wordweb dictionary their meanings are described as:

Wandering: Travelling without any clear destination and Roaming: Move aimlessly without any destination.

So, is there any specific difference between the two?

  • 1
    I don't like that definition of roaming. I believe one can roam with a purpose. For example a polar bear may need to roam to find food- so there can be a purpose to roaming. Try this definition: to travel purposefully unhindered through a wide area
    – Jim
    Sep 3, 2013 at 7:21
  • @Jim I think the original definition is missing an or.
    – ghoppe
    Sep 3, 2013 at 7:51

1 Answer 1


Indeed, to wander and to roam are synonyms, and they both can mean to move about aimlessly or without any destination, often in search of food or employment.

However, to wander has some additional meanings that to roam doesn't:

  • Lose clarity or turn aside from the main subject. (Her mind wanders.)
  • To be sexually unfaithful.
  • To go an indirect route or at no set pace. (We wandered into town.)
  • To move in a sinuous, spiral or circular course. (Synonym with meander.)
  • 4
    And to roam has some additional meanings that to wander doesn't
    – Jim
    Sep 3, 2013 at 8:29

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