intr.v. loi·tered, loi·ter·ing, loi·ters
a. To stand idly about; linger without any purpose.
b. Law To violate a law or ordinance that prohibits persons from remaining in a given location without a clear purpose for an extended period of time, especially when behaving in a manner indicating a possible threat to persons or property in the vicinity.
2. To hover over or remain near an area: Fog loitered over the mountains. A jet loitered in the sky near the airbase.
3. To proceed slowly or with many stops: loitered all the way home.
4. To act slowly or with leisure; take one's time: "The organist loitered over the keys, making sure of his mastery of the coming Sabbath anthem" (O. Henry).
[Middle English loitren, probably from Middle Dutch loteren, to totter, be loose.]
The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2020 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
Indo-European & Semitic Roots Appendices
Thousands of entries in the dictionary include etymologies that trace their origins back to reconstructed proto-languages. You can obtain more information about these forms in our online appendices:
The Indo-European appendix covers nearly half of the Indo-European roots that have left their mark on English words. A more complete treatment of Indo-European roots and the English words derived from them is available in our Dictionary of Indo-European Roots.