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From an earlier tardive, from Old French tardif, from Vulgar Latin *tardivus, from Latin tardus ‎(slow”, “sluggish).



tardy ‎(comparative tardier, superlative tardiest)

  1. Late; overdue or delayed.
    He yawned, then raised a tardy hand over his mouth.
  2. ineffectual; slow-witted, slow to act, or dullard.
    His tardy performance bordered on incompetence.
  3. Moving with a slow pace or motion; not swift.
    • Sandys
      Check the tardy flight of time.
    • Prior
      tardy to vengeance, and with mercy brave
  4. (obsolete) Unwary; unready.
    (Can we find and add a quotation of Hudibras to this entry?)
  5. (obsolete) Criminal; guilty.
    (Can we find and add a quotation of Collier to this entry?)


Usage notes[edit]

  • The term suggests habitual lateness.
  • Somewhat dated in the United Kingdom.



tardy ‎(plural tardies)

  1. (US) A piece of paper given to students who are late to class.
    The teacher gave her a tardy because she did not come into the classroom until after the bell.

See also[edit]


tardy ‎(third-person singular simple present tardies, present participle tardying, simple past and past participle tardied)

  1. (obsolete, transitive) To make tardy.
    (Can we find and add a quotation of Shakespeare to this entry?)