• British English Slang – dilly-dally or dilly dally
  • Meaning – To wander aimlessly or to dawdle. This expression is used to describe walking or behaving without purpose; to be idle or behave in a pointless manner. To loiter when you should be going somewhere or doing something. Dilly-dally can also be used to describe wasting time or being indecisive. 
  • Dilly-dally is quite old fashioned British English slang but is still used today.
  • This expression is perhaps most commonly associated with a classic music hall song from 1919. My Old Man (Said Follow the Van) was a popular UK hit for Marie Lloyd. This song is very well-known in the UK and local versions of this song are still chanted by football supporters today.
  • Here is a verse from this song – which features lots of classic British slang:

‘My old man (husband) said “Foller (follow) the van,
And don’t dilly dally on the way”.
Off went the van wiv (with) me ‘ome (home) packed in it,
I followed on wiv me old cock linnet.
But I dillied and dallied, dallied and I dillied.
Lost me way and don’t know where to roam.
Well you can’t trust a special (volunteer police officer) like the old time coppers (police officer).
When you can’t find your way ‘ome.’

  • “Jack you’ll be late for school if you don’t get a move on! Don’t dilly-dally or you’ll miss your bus!”