Etymology unclear. Attested in the sense “to stroll” from the 1660s; noun sense “a stroll” attested 1828.[1] Likely from earlier term meaning “to muse”, late 15th century, from Middle English santren, of unknown origin.[1] Competing theories exist:

Various fanciful folk etymologies have also been given.[5][6]



saunter (third-person singular simple present saunters, present participle sauntering, simple past and past participle sauntered)

  1. To stroll, or walk at a leisurely pace.
    Synonyms: amble, stroll, wander
    • (Can we date this quote by Masson and provide title, author's full name, and other details?)
      One could lie under elm trees in a lawn, or saunter in meadows by the side of a stream.
    • 1986 November 24, Susan Sontag, “The Way We Live Now”, in The New Yorker[1]:
      And, after all, they were once very close, doesn’t Lewis still have the keys to his apartment, you know the way you let someone keep the keys after you’ve broken up, only a little because you hope the person might just saunter in, drunk or high, late some evening, []



saunter (plural saunters)

  1. A leisurely walk or stroll.
    • 1814, Elizabeth Hervey, Amabel, volume 1, page 53:
      Caroline [] begged that the drive might be given up for a saunter about the gardens []
  2. A leisurely pace.
  3. (obsolete) A place for sauntering or strolling.
    • (Can we date this quote by Young and provide title, author's full name, and other details?)
      That wheel of fops, that saunter of the town.



  1. 1.0 1.1 saunter” in Douglas Harper, Online Etymology Dictionary, 2001–2020.
  2. ^ Oxford English Dictionary
  3. ^ Proposed by Blackley (Word Gossip, 1869); see 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica
  4. ^ Wedgwood; see 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica
  5. ^ Saunter., Languagehat, July 24, 2004
  6. ^ In Walking, Henry David Thoreau derives it from Sainte Terre (holy land) or sans terre (without land); these are dismissed as far-fetched.