When someone lingers, he or she takes an unexpectedly long time to depart, as Romeo lingers when bidding Juliet farewell (or as annoying houseguests almost always tend to do).In addition to its primary meaning of "taking a long time to depart,"linger has the additional meaning of "persisting while gradually weakening." In this sense, linger can refer to feelings or sensations that slowly fade away, like the smell of perfume that lingers in an elevator after the passengers have exited.