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Is "dawdle" a common verb in American English? In my limited experience I have never heard Americans use it.

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Australians use it quite often. –  Glen Wheeler Apr 12 '11 at 8:13

3 Answers 3

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Looking on the Corpus of Contemporary American English for dawdle, and comparing the result with what reported by the British National Corpus, I would say that the word is not so common in American English, but it is used more in American English than in British English.

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@kiamlaluno - I don't quite understand what it means "not so common, but is used more" - to me it sounds self-contradictory. Can you, please, explain. –  brilliant Apr 12 '11 at 11:49
@brillant It is not self-contradictory. A word that is used in 59 sentence in fiction contexts, and it is used 29 times in newspapers, it is not what I would call a common word. The same word, however, is less frequently used in British English; that means it is more common in American English than in British English. I don't see any contradiction. –  kiamlaluno Apr 12 '11 at 11:57
@kiamlaluno - Aaah! I see, thank you. –  brilliant Apr 12 '11 at 12:09
I'm surprised by these results. "Dawdle" is an informal word. Seeing so few spoken instances relative to the newspaper and magazine columns seems odd. –  user1579 Apr 12 '11 at 13:29
@Rhodri You should then be surprised to see the word used in academic context, even if in that case there are just six sentences. –  kiamlaluno Apr 12 '11 at 13:40

From an AmE speaker, this is perfectly fine. It's not a particularly common or newspaper-y word. It is most commonly used (and often) in the context:

Quit dawdling and tie you shoes or you'll be late for school.

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I have never heard it used, but with such a common meaning ("spend more time than is necessary going somewhere. Eleanor will be back any moment, if she doesn't dawdle") I cannot see any reason why I wouldn't be used in the right context.

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