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From Middle English wandren, wandrien, from Old English wandrian ‎(to wander, roam, fly around, hover; change; stray, err), from Proto-Germanic *wandrōną ‎(to wander), from Proto-Indo-European *wendʰ- ‎(to turn, wind), equivalent to wend +‎ -er (frequentative suffix). Cognate with Scots wander ‎(to wander), German wandern ‎(to wander, roam, hike, migrate), Swedish vandra ‎(to wander, hike).



wander ‎(third-person singular simple present wanders, present participle wandering, simple past and past participle wandered)

  1. (intransitive) To move without purpose or specified destination; often in search of livelihood.
    to wander over the fields
    • Bible, Hebrews xi.37:
      They wandered about in sheepskins and goatskins.
    • 1907, Robert W. Chambers, chapter IX, The Younger Set:
      “A tight little craft,” was Austin’s invariable comment on the matron; []. ¶ Near her wandered her husband, orientally bland, invariably affable, and from time to time squinting sideways, as usual, in the ever-renewed expectation that he might catch a glimpse of his stiff, retroussé moustache.
    • 1915, George A. Birmingham, Gossamer, chapterI:
      There is an hour or two, after the passengers have embarked, which is disquieting and fussy. [] Stewards, carrying cabin trunks, swarm in the corridors. Passengers wander restlessly about or hurry, with futile energy, from place to place.
  2. (intransitive) To stray; stray from one's course; err.
    A writer wanders from his subject.
    • Bible, Psalms cxix.10:
      O, let me not wander from thy commandments.
  3. (intransitive) To commit adultery.
  4. (intransitive) To go somewhere indirectly or at varying speeds; to move in a curved path.
  5. (intransitive) Of the mind, to lose focus or clarity of argument or attention.



  • (move without purpose): err, roam
  • (commit adultery): cheat
  • (go somewhere indirectly):
  • (lose focus): drift

Derived terms[edit]


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wander ‎(plural wanders)

  1. The act or instance of wandering.
    To go for a wander






  1. First-person singular present of wandern.
  2. Imperative singular of wandern.