Something like "latecomer" but for departing rather than arriving.

For example, "Bob was always the _____ at social outings."

Other variations with verbs or non - noun idioms are useful to me as well, such as "Bob would always ________ at social outings."

  • 5
    You mean he "overstays his welcome"? ("Wears out his welcome" is also idiomatic, as suggested by Nathaniel.)
    – Hot Licks
    Oct 26, 2015 at 19:44
  • Not only did he wear out his welcome, but his hosts.
    – Chris H
    Oct 27, 2015 at 15:31
  • Wow, this blew up! Thanks for all the creative answers. Oct 27, 2015 at 20:32
  • Dorothy Parker said that after a party's two drinks, she's under the weather. After three, under the coffee table. And after four, under the host. Feb 9, 2017 at 17:28

13 Answers 13


Guests who stay too long can be said to overstay their welcome or wear out their welcome. That is, their host grows tired of their presence and wishes they would leave.

The idiom is not limited to "staying too late," and also applies to other sorts of unwelcome behavior:

To behave in an offensive, burdensome, or tiresome manner, with the result that one's continued presence is unwanted within a residence, commercial establishment, or social group. (WT)

The overstay variant, though sometimes considered synonymous with the wear out version, more strongly emphasizes the length of the visit. It is more commonly used in British English (ngram), while wear out is more popular in American English (ngram).

The verb overstay by itself also communicates the act of staying too long, but less idiomatically (WT). If you require a noun, some derive overstayer (WT) from the verb, as used in a LifeHacker article:

People won't always get your subtle hints. Sometimes you need to tell an overstayer directly that the conversation and hang out time is over.

  • 4
    Or outstay one's welcome
    – Mari-Lou A
    Oct 26, 2015 at 20:19
  • Now, in shakespearian spirit, we need to think of a new word to identify the concept
    – Hellreaver
    Oct 27, 2015 at 5:55
  • 1
    It's a pity that overstay works, but the dominant (and only in the dictionaries I've just checked online) definition of overstayer is in the sense of immigration.
    – Chris H
    Oct 27, 2015 at 15:30
  • As a brit I find outstay more idiomatic than overstay ...ngram link is too long to post in a comment but seems to confirm
    – Anentropic
    Oct 27, 2015 at 16:55
  • 1
    @Hellreaver perhaps 'lingerer' as suggested by WillB3 Oct 27, 2015 at 20:35

The word "straggler" comes to mind, meaning "a person or an animal that is among the last or the slowest in a group to do something, for example, to finish a race or leave a place."

Example sentences:

‘The majority have returned to breeding grounds by late March, but stragglers have lingered locally until the end of May.’

‘The library was nearly deserted except for a few stragglers checking out books or reading in corners.’

‘No, the last stragglers, the tourists and the visitors, have now left the palace.’


It may be a bit slang, but I immediately thought of the word lingerer, as used in Pineapple Express:


F***in' lingerer, man.

(Said after kicking someone out of his apartment).

  • I'm not sure I've heard it in usage much, but I'd definitely understand this if used, and in my opinion meets the OP's requirements better than other answers.
    – AndyT
    Oct 27, 2015 at 15:18
  • Great! 'Lingerer' describes the phenomenon in a social context very well. Too bad I need a more formal word! Oct 27, 2015 at 20:34
  • 1
    Lingerer has long usage, and is perhaps archaic and unusual, but not slang. As the OED explains: lingerer (ˈlɪŋgərə(r)) [f. linger v. + -er1.] One who, or that which, lingers, tarries, etc.; a dawdler, idler; one who hankers (after). 1579 Tomson Calvin's Serm. Tim. 610/2 As oft as we play the lingerers, & cold staruelinges. 1646 Gaule Cases Consc. 3 Our late leaners and lingerers after such a kinde of sect. 1713 Steele Guardian No. 131 ⁋1 The mighty body of lingerers, persons who..waste away In gentle inactivity the day. 1740 J. Love Cricket (1770) i. 53 O Flee, you Ling'rer, Flee!
    – John Mack
    Oct 28, 2015 at 1:08


: someone who takes more time than necessary; someone who lags behind Princeton University Wordnet


dawdle: to take more time than necessary: dawdled through breakfast. The American Heritage® Dictionary

"Bob was always the laggard at parties, dawdling around and leaving after everyone else"


I would refer to such a person as a hanger-on.

My particular idiom comes from Glasgow in Scotland. I wouldn't regard this expression as particularly regional, however, and would expect it to be understood throughout the UK or even beyond.

  • 3
    I'd understand a hanger-on to be an additional person, someone who hangs around with an invitee perhaps, and not someone who hangs on after everyone else has left. (Southern England)
    – Chris H
    Oct 27, 2015 at 15:27
  • I live in the US, and I was going to suggest this.  I believe that it would be recognized here as an answer to the question. Oct 27, 2015 at 20:24

I'll offer "last man standing" - the connotation of being able to carry on partying when everyone else has run out of steam.

In particular the connotations of the victor in some endurance feat. This doesn't convey the same 'outstaying welcome' connotations as some of the other answer.


He'll stay till the last dog is hung.

"When anybody from around here wanted to say they were still present at the end of a big party, they would say they had 'stayed until the last dog was hung.' Most of them probably had no idea anymore that they were talking about the Seneca New Year's celebration in the winter, where on the fifth day they used to strangle a white dog and hang it on a pole, Nobody had done that for at least a hundred years." --- Dance for the Dead, by Thomas Perry (Random House, New York, 1996)

  • That is... disturbing. And not a phrase I've ever heard. And now not one I ever want to hear...
    – AndyT
    Oct 29, 2015 at 9:33
  • +1 because that phrase was the first thing I thought of when I read the question. I heard it often when I was young, and never understood what the dog-hanging was about. Now I know. Is "hangdog expression" related?
    – bof
    Dec 22, 2016 at 10:36

Surprisingly, no one has suggested this aphorism attributed to Benjamin Franklin in 1736

Guests, like fish, begin to smell after three days.

In the 16th century, guests who seemingly had taken permanent residence were compared to three-day-old fish. The following quote is by John Lyly (1554-1606)

Fish and guests in three days are stale.

Source: Dictionary of Proverbs

  • 4
    I don't think this answers the question. The OP wants a noun (or noun-phrase) for someone who stays too late, not a proverb or aphorism.
    – AndyT
    Oct 27, 2015 at 15:16
  • 3
    Your usage example sounds rather contrived to me. It sounds even more contrived if you try and put it in the OP's example sentence: "Bob was always the person like that saying about guests and fish that stink/smell after 3 days at social outings." It doesn't work.
    – AndyT
    Oct 27, 2015 at 16:02
  • 1
    @JohnMack I posted this "answer" not because I thought it fit the OP's request, it doesn't, but because it is a very well-known aphorism, it is said about a guest who stays longer than his or her host would prefer, (which is what the question is about) and simply because I like it!
    – Mari-Lou A
    Oct 28, 2015 at 6:10
  • 2
    @Mari-LouA - If you don't think it fits the OP's request, but is related to the topic, it should be a comment, not an answer.
    – AndyT
    Oct 28, 2015 at 9:12
  • 2
    Mari Lou, sorry but Andy is right. You answer is better suited as a comment.
    – shaunxer
    Oct 28, 2015 at 17:24

My father once told the joke about how to get guests who have worn out their welcome to leave: "Wife, let's go to bed so our guests can go home."

  • 3
    Hi @Doris, welcome to EL&U. I find your answer funny but I need you to recognize that this does not answer OP's question but is still somewhat related to the question. You could post it in comment section if it's available to you Oct 27, 2015 at 4:00
  • @Doris, my father would say the same thing. I've never heard anyone else ever use that phrase.
    – Jim Green
    Oct 27, 2015 at 15:47
  • My father-in-law would say to the guest: "Me - I still have a guest so I can't go to bed yet. But you? Don't you think it's a bit late to still be up?" Aug 9, 2016 at 13:08

Consider the expression "closing time":

the time at which pubs must legally stop selling alcoholic drinks


By extension, this also means the very end of a social gathering.

So you could say something like: "Bob would never leave a party before closing time".

  • I don't think this answers the question. The OP wants a noun (or noun-phrase) for someone who stays too late, not a complete phrase which gives the meaning without using such a noun.
    – AndyT
    Oct 27, 2015 at 16:08
  • 2
    The question is not tagged "noun", Andy. But it is tagged "idiom". My answer provides an idiom. Thanks for at least adding a comment after downvoting. That is all I have to say on this.
    – A.P.
    Oct 27, 2015 at 16:18
  • 1
    A tag of "idiom" does not mean "please give me an idiom relating to this, ignoring anything else I've written". If the question asked "what's a word to describe someone who tries to please the boss" and tagged it idiom a correct answer might be "brown-noser", but a bad answer might be "you've got your head so far up our boss's arse that when he yawns we see your face".
    – AndyT
    Oct 27, 2015 at 16:33
  • 1
    Oh, and just because a new user has missed the "noun" tag doesn't mean that clarification within the rest of his question should be ignored.
    – AndyT
    Oct 27, 2015 at 16:33
  • 1
    No problem, my comments were tongue-in-cheek anyway. No hard feelings, Andy.
    – A.P.
    Oct 29, 2015 at 9:23

This may not be pertinent to parties, but night owl is a term which is generally used to refer anyone who stays up late at night.


The 'thing that wouldn't leave' has always been my favorite


"party killer", as coined by the NYC band Mongrel Bitch: "I'm a party killer and I'm not going home, as long as there"s beer you'll never be alone"...

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