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See also: Tarry


Etymology 1[edit]

From Middle English tarien, terien (to vex, harass, cause to hesitate, delay), from Old English tirian, tirġan, terġan (to worry, exasperate, pain, provoke, excite), from Proto-Germanic *terganą, *targijaną (to pull, tease, irritate), from Proto-Indo-European *derHgʰ- (to pull, tug, irritate). Cognate with Dutch tergen (to provoke), German zergen (to vex, irritate, provoke), Norwegian Bokmål terge (to irritate, provoke), Russian дёргать (djórgatʹ, to pull, yank, jerk, pester). Compare also Walloon tårdjî (to be late, to be slow, to wait).



tarry (third-person singular simple present tarries, present participle tarrying, simple past and past participle tarried) (dated)

  1. (intransitive) To delay; to be late or tardy in beginning or doing anything.
    Synonyms: forestall, put off; see also Thesaurus:procrastinate
  2. (intransitive) To linger in expectation of something or until something is done or happens.
    Synonym: abide
    • 1953, James Baldwin, “Florence's Prayer”, in Go Tell It on the Mountain (Penguin Classics), London: Penguin Books, published 2001, →ISBN:
      And, thinking of to-morrow, when the church would rise up, singing, under the booming Sunday light, he thought of the light for which they tarried, which, in an instant, filled the soul, causing [] the new-born in Christ to testify: Once I was blind and now I see.
  3. (intransitive) To abide, stay or wait somewhere, especially if longer than planned.
    Synonyms: hang about, hang around, linger, loiter; see also Thesaurus:tarry
  4. (intransitive) To stay somewhere temporarily.
    Synonyms: sojourn, stay, stay over, stop, stop over; see also Thesaurus:sojourn
    • 1820, Washington Irving, The Legend of Sleepy Hollow, published 1864:
      In this by-place of nature, there abode, in a remote period of American history, that is to say, some thirty years since, a worthy wight of the name of Ichabod Crane; who sojourned, or, as he expressed it, "tarried," in Sleepy Hollow [].
  5. (transitive) To wait for; to stay or stop for; to allow to linger.
    Synonyms: await, wait on; see also Thesaurus:wait for
Alternative forms[edit]
Derived terms[edit]


tarry (plural tarries)

  1. A sojourn.
    Synonyms: stay, stop, stop-over

Etymology 2[edit]

From Middle English terrie, equivalent to tar +‎ -y.



tarry (comparative tarrier, superlative tarriest)

  1. Resembling tar.
    Synonym: (in consistency) pitchy
    • 1909, E[rnest] W[illiam] Hornung, “An Inaugural Banquet”, in Mr. Justice Raffles, 1st American edition, New York, N.Y.: Charles Scribner’s Sons, →OCLC, page 2:
      And he led the way from the station, stopping once to gloat over the sunset across Trafalgar Square, and again to inhale the tarry scent of the warm wood-paving, which was perfume to his nostrils as the din of its traffic was music to his ears, before we came to one of those political palaces which permit themselves to be included in the list of ordinary clubs.
  2. Covered with tar.
    Synonyms: bituminized, pitchy


  • Douglas Harper (2001–2024) “tarry”, in Online Etymology Dictionary.
  • Webster's Seventh New Collegiate Dictionary, Springfield, Massachusetts, G.&C. Merriam Co., 1967