Lollygag and Dawdle

It’s the equivalent of minus 37 celsius here today – thus my preoccupation with synonyms for lazing.  It’s a radio day, slow thrum of music and voices, with glances outside to watch the progress of the birds flitting to and from the frozen feeder, dancing from one little foot to the other.  Lollygag – a particular favourite and yet another Americanism with murky origins – the etymological dictionary says the following:

lollygag (v.) Look up lollygag at“dawdle, dally,” 1862, lallygag, American English, perhaps from dialectal lolly “tongue” + gag “deceive, trick.” Related: Lollygagged; lollygagging.

Dawdle, though it came into use in the mid-seventeenth century, is another synonym.  Of this, some theories are that it evolved from daddle (to walk unsteadily) or perhaps from the daw, a bird generally regarded as silly and sluggish but, to all appearances, sleekly purplish-grey and quite attractive.

From ‘dawdle’ we get ‘doodle’ which, in its earliest usage, was a noun that referred to a ‘silly fellow’ and only came into use in the 1930s in connection with aimless scrawling.  

Aimlessly idle, but remember what Camus said:“Idleness is fatal only to the mediocre.” 


About hickson1

Art historian, professor, Italian Renaissance and Baroque specialist, Italophile
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