A dalliance is a playful flirtation, one that might lead to a casual romance. The king's public dalliance toward the lady in waiting shocked everyone in the court except for the queen.

First appearing in Middle English, the noun dalliance stems from the verb dally, meaning "to waste time, to act playfully, especially in a flirtatious way." Dalliance often describes a casual flirtation — generally something short-term and not very serious. Your aunt may blush when you mention her dalliance with the rugby player she met that time in Dublin. Dalliance can also refer to goofing off when you should be working. Your coworker's continued dalliance can result in missed deadlines.

Definitions of dalliance

n the deliberate act of delaying and playing instead of working

dawdling, trifling
Type of:
delay, holdup
the act of delaying; inactivity resulting in something being put off until a later time

n playful behavior intended to arouse romantic interest

coquetry, flirt, flirtation, flirting, toying
Type of:
caper, frolic, gambol, play, romp
gay or light-hearted recreational activity for diversion or amusement

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