5 historical synonyms for procrastinate
Delaying an important but arduous task in favour of a more pleasurable less urgent one? Surely everybody has been guilty of doing that at some point, and, as you probably know, there’s a great word for it – procrastinate. Apparently people have been procrastinating since the late 16th century, when the verb first came into English via the Latin prōcrāstināre, literally meaning ‘to put off till the next day’.
Since it’s US Tax Day tomorrow – a day that presumably very few people are looking forward to – we felt inspired to delve into the Historical Thesaurus of the Oxford English Dictionary (OED) to find some interesting synonyms for procrastinate. So why not put off doing your income taxes for a moment and having a look at the different words we have come up with?
Dally appeared surprisingly early according to recent findings – the OED currently dates it to the 14th century. From the Old French dalier meaning ‘to converse, chat, pass one’s time in light social converse’, the sense ‘to put off or defer by trifling’ is first attested in 1574.
Coming from post-classical Latin perendinare, this rare verb means ‘to defer until the day after tomorrow’. Another meaning is ‘to stay at a university college, especially for an extended period of time’.
This verb is of French origin and also has the meaning ‘to make a temporary stay in a place’. The OED cites William Langland’s ‘The vision of William concerning Piers Plowman’ as the first evidence for the word. Sojourn is also frequently used in its noun form, meaning ‘a temporary stay’.
Its current meaning ‘retire (someone) with a pension’ seems to have first emerged in the mid-19th century. An earlier sense that is now both rare and obsolete, however, is ‘to put off for a time’, which is first found in the 17th century.