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From Middle English straglen, of uncertain origin.


  • IPA(key): /ˈstɹæɡl̩/
  • Rhymes: -æɡəl
  • Hyphenation: strag‧gle
    • (file)


straggle (third-person singular simple present straggles, present participle straggling, simple past and past participle straggled)

  1. (intransitive) To stray, rove, or wander from a normal course and others of its kind.
    He straggled away from the crowd and went off on his own.
    • c. 1587–1588, [Christopher Marlowe], Tamburlaine the Great. [] The First Part [], 2nd edition, part 1, London: [] [R. Robinson for] Richard Iones, [], published 1592, →OCLC; reprinted as Tamburlaine the Great (A Scolar Press Facsimile), Menston, Yorkshire, London: Scolar Press, 1973, →ISBN, Act II, scene iv:
      What, feareful coward, ſtragling from the camp,
      When Kings themſelues are preſent in the field?
    • 1692, Roger L’Estrange, “ (please specify the fable number.) (please specify the name of the fable.)”, in Fables, of Æsop and Other Eminent Mythologists: [], London: [] R[ichard] Sare, [], →OCLC:
      The wolf spy'd out a straggling Kid.
    • 1707, J[ohn] Mortimer, The Whole Art of Husbandry; or, The Way of Managing and Improving of Land. [], 2nd edition, London: [] J[ohn] H[umphreys] for H[enry] Mortlock [], and J[onathan] Robinson [], published 1708, →OCLC:
      Trim off the small, superfluous branches on each side of the hedge that straggle too far out.
    • 1733, Eusebius Renaudot, transl., Ancient Accounts of India and China[1], London, →OCLC, page 61:
      Our Authors ſay there are no Elephants in China, which muſt be underſtood of the Provinces they knew, where, in truth, there are none. Father Martini writes, that they begin to be met with at Nanning, in the Province of Quangli, where the Inhabitants uſe them for War and for Carriage. Some there are alſo in the Province of Junnan ; nor is it a wonder that theſe Creatures, who ſo ſwarm in the Indies, and in Tungkin or Tonquin, ſhould ſtraggle hither.
  2. (intransitive) To act in a disorderly and irregular way.

Derived terms[edit]



straggle (plural straggles)

  1. An irregular, spread-out group.
    • 1951, Herman Wouk, The Caine Mutiny, Doubleday & Company, Inc., page 38:
      Twenty-five hundred hands snapped at a slant to the hats. The admiral strolled onto the field, smoking, followed by a straggle of officers, walking carelessly to symbolize the privileges of rank, but straggling at distances from the admiral strictly regulated by the number of sleeve stripes on each stragger.
    • 2005, Joe Bennett, A Land of Two Halves, page 43:
      At Milton the road is blocked by yet another Anzac parade, a straggle of people raw-faced in the cold.
    • 2008, Denis Montgomery, Crest of a Wave, page 205:
      Apart from these few rail stations with a duka and a straggle of a few houses there was no town or village. That part of Kenya, mostly acacia bush and, further on, grassy plains with bush along the course of the few rivers, was empty of humanity []
  2. An outlier; something that has strayed beyond the normal limits.