Etymology unclear. Attested in the sense “to stroll” from the 1660s; noun sense “a stroll” attested 1828. Likely from earlier term meaning “to muse”, late 15th century, from Middle English santren, of unknown origin. Competing theories exist:
- From Anglo-Norman sauntrer (mid 14th century), from Middle French s'aventurer (“to take risks”); however this is considered unlikely by the OED. Compare Middle English aunter (“adventure”).
- Of Germanic origin, with proposed cognates including German schlendern, Danish slentre, Swedish släntra, and Icelandic slentr, all meaning “to stroll”.
- (General American) IPA(key): /ˈsɔntɚ/
- (Received Pronunciation) IPA(key): /ˈsɔːntə/
- (cot–caught merger, Canada) IPA(key): /ˈsɑntɚ/
- Rhymes: -ɔːntə(ɹ)
- To stroll, or walk at a leisurely pace
- One could lie under elm trees in a lawn, or saunter in meadows by the side of a stream.
saunter (plural saunters)
- A leisurely walk or stroll.
- 1814, Elizabeth Hervey, Amabel: Volume 1, page 53:
- Caroline […] begged that the drive might be given up for a saunter about the gardens […]
- A leisurely pace.
- (obsolete) A place for sauntering or strolling.
- That wheel of fops, that saunter of the town.
- “saunter” in Douglas Harper, Online Etymology Dictionary, 2001–2019.
- ^ Oxford English Dictionary
- ^ Proposed by Blackley (Word Gossip, 1869); see 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica
- ^ Wedgwood; see 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica
- ^ Saunter., Languagehat, July 24, 2004
- ^ In Walking, Henry David Thoreau derives it from Sainte Terre (“holy land”) or sans terre (“without land”); these are dismissed as far-fetched.