There are lots of words that mean to move slowly. The point of dawdle is that one is moving too slowly, is falling behind, or is not properly focused on making progress.

One way to remember the meaning of dawdle is that it rhymes with "waddle," as in, "a duck waddles." Imagine what would happen if you waddled instead of walked. It would take a lot more time, and your companion might say, "Don't dawdle!" Dawdle implies not only taking extra time but actually wasting it. A leisurely walk in the woods is one thing, but if you have to get to the theater on time, don't dawdle along the way: you'll miss the curtain!

Definitions of dawdle

v hang (back) or fall (behind) in movement, progress, development, etc.

fall back, fall behind, lag
drag, drop back, drop behind, get behind, hang back, trail
to lag or linger behind
Type of:
to travel behind, go after, come after

v take one's time; proceed slowly

belt along, bucket along, cannonball along, hasten, hie, hotfoot, pelt along, race, rush, rush along, speed, step on it
move fast
Type of:
move so as to change position, perform a nontranslational motion

v waste time

Type of:
act, behave, do
behave in a certain manner; show a certain behavior; conduct or comport oneself

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