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Etymology unclear. In sense “to stroll”, attested 1660s; noun sense “a stroll” attested 1828.[1] Perhaps from earlier term meaning “to muse”, late 15th century, from Middle English santren, of Unknown origin.[1] Alternatively, from Anglo-Norman sauntrer (mid 14th century), from Middle French s'aventurer (to take risks), but this is considered unlikely;[2] compare Middle English aunter (adventure).[3] May be of Germanic origin, with proposed cognates being German schlendern, Danish slentre, Swedish släntra, Icelandic slentr, all meaning “to stroll“.[4] Various fanciful folk etymologies also given.[5][6]



saunter (third-person singular simple present saunters, present participle sauntering, simple past and past participle sauntered)

  1. To stroll, or walk at a leisurely pace
    • Masson
      One could lie under elm trees in a lawn, or saunter in meadows by the side of a stream.




saunter (plural saunters)

  1. 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 []
  2. A leisurely pace.
  3. (obsolete) A place for sauntering or strolling.
    • Young
      That wheel of fops, that saunter of the town.



  1. 1.0 1.1 saunter” in Douglas Harper, Online Etymology Dictionary, 2001–2018.
  2. ^ OED
  3. ^ Proposed by Blackley (Word Gossip, 1869); see 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica
  4. ^ Wedgwood; see 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica
  5. ^ Saunter., Languagehat, July 24, 2004
  6. ^ In Walking, Henry David Thoreau derives it from Sainte Terre (holy land) or sans terre (without land); these are dismissed as far-fetched.