• Slow to act.
  • Intended to cause delay.

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Example Sentences

“His client was late, so the lawyer pulled out dilatory tactics to stall.”

“Cleaning out the garage was just a dilatory effort to avoid mowing the lawn.”

“My students are dilatory masters in pulling out all the stops to delay a test.”

Word Origin

Latin, late 16th century

Why this word?

Surely you’re familiar with procrastination. Maybe you’re even learning new words as a method of procrastination. Now you can feel good about your delays because you’ve learned a new adjective for these tricks — “dilatory.” While one definition of “dilatory” includes a similar word, “delay,” there’s no clear etymological relation between the two. “Dilatory” can be traced to the Latin “dilatorius,” meaning “extending or putting off time,” and “delay” comes from the Old French “delaier,” meaning “to postpone or defer.”

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