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Compare Scots dandill (to dander; go about idly; move uncertainly; trifle), English dialectal dander (to wander about; talk incoherently; rave), Middle Dutch dantinnen ("to trifle"; > French dandiner (to swing; waddle)), German dändeln, tändeln (to trifle, dandle), Middle Dutch and Provincial German danten (to do foolish things; trifle), German Tand (trifle, prattle).


  • (UK) IPA(key): [ˈdændəl], [ˈdændəɫ]


dandle (third-person singular simple present dandles, present participle dandling, simple past and past participle dandled)

  1. To move up and down on one’s knee or in one’s arms, in affectionate play, as an infant.
    • "you will nurse and be carried on her arm and dandled on her knees." – Isaiah 66:12 (NIV)
  2. To treat with fondness, as if a child; to fondle; to toy with; to pet.
    • [T]hey have put me in a silk night-gown and gaudy fool's cap, and make me now and then stand in the window with it. I am ashamed to be dandled thus, and cannot look in the glass without blushing to see myself turned into such a pretty little master. – Addison
    • The book, thus dandled into popularity by bishops and good ladies, contained many pieces of nursery eloquence. – Jeffrey
  3. (obsolete) To play with; to put off or delay by trifles; to wheedle.
    • Captains do so dandle their doings, and dally in the service, as if they would not have the enemy subdued. – Edmund Spenser

Derived terms[edit]


Part or all of this entry has been imported from the 1913 edition of Webster’s Dictionary, which is now free of copyright and hence in the public domain. The imported definitions may be significantly out of date, and any more recent senses may be completely missing.
(See the entry for dandle in
Webster’s Revised Unabridged Dictionary, G. & C. Merriam, 1913.)

See also[edit]