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adjective, \ˈī-dəl\

Simple Definition of idle

  • : not working, active, or being used

  • : not having any real purpose or value

  • : not having much activity

Source: Merriam-Webster's Learner's Dictionary

Full Definition of idle

idler play \ˈīd-lər, ˈī-dəl-ər\ idlest play \ˈīd-ləst, ˈī-dəl-əst\

  1. 1 :  lacking worth or basis :  vain <idle chatter> <idle pleasure>

  2. 2 :  not occupied or employed: as a :  having no employment :  inactive <idle workers> b :  not turned to normal or appropriate use <idle farmland> c :  not scheduled to compete <the team will be idle tomorrow>

  3. 3 a :  shiftless, lazy b :  having no evident lawful means of support

idleness play \ˈī-dəl-nəs\ noun
idly play \ˈīd-lē, ˈī-dəl-ē\ adverb

Examples of idle in a sentence

  1. There has been a lot of idle speculation about what might happen, but no one really knows.

  2. the idle days of summer

Origin of idle

Middle English idel, from Old English īdel; akin to Old High German ītal worthless

First Known Use: before 12th century

Synonym Discussion of idle

vain, nugatory, otiose, idle, empty, hollow mean being without worth or significance. vain implies either absolute or relative absence of value <vain promises>. nugatory suggests triviality or insignificance <a monarch with nugatory powers>. otiose suggests that something serves no purpose and is either an encumbrance or a superfluity <a film without a single otiose scene>. idle suggests being incapable of worthwhile use or effect <idle speculations>. empty and hollow suggest a deceiving lack of real substance or soundness or genuineness <an empty attempt at reconciliation> <a hollow victory>.

inactive, idle, inert, passive, supine mean not engaged in work or activity. inactive applies to anyone or anything not in action or in operation or at work <on inactive status as an astronaut> <inactive accounts>. idle applies to persons that are not busy or occupied or to their powers or their implements <workers were idle in the fields>. inert as applied to things implies powerlessness to move or to affect other things; as applied to persons it suggests an inherent or habitual indisposition to activity <inert ingredients in drugs> <an inert citizenry>. passive implies immobility or lack of normally expected response to an external force or influence and often suggests deliberate submissiveness or self-control <passive resistance>. supine applies only to persons and commonly implies abjectness or indolence <a supine willingness to play the fool>.

Rhymes with idle




Simple Definition of idle

  • of an engine or vehicle : to run without being connected for doing useful work

  • : to spend time doing nothing or nothing useful

  • : to cause (someone or something) to stop working : to make (someone or something) idle

Source: Merriam-Webster's Learner's Dictionary

Full Definition of idle

idledidling play \ˈīd-liŋ, ˈī-dəl-iŋ\

  1. intransitive verb
  2. 1 a :  to spend time in idleness b :  to move idly

  3. 2 :  to run at low power and often disconnected usually so that power is not used for useful work <the engine is idling>

  4. transitive verb
  5. 1 :  to pass in idleness

  6. 2 :  to make idle <workers idled by a strike>

  7. 3 :  to cause to idle

idler play \ˈīd-lər, ˈī-dəl-ər\ noun

Examples of idle in a sentence

  1. She left the engine idling for a few seconds before she turned it off.

  2. The cars idled in traffic.

  3. A group of boys idled in the doorway.

  4. The factory closed, idling several hundred workers.

  5. Thousands of workers have been idled by the bad economy.

  6. The factory has been idled by the strike.


First Known Use of idle


Synonym Discussion of idle

idle, loaf, lounge, loll, laze mean to spend time doing nothing. idle may be used in reference to persons that move lazily or without purpose <idled the day away>. loaf suggests either resting or wandering about as though there were nothing to do <she does her work and then loafs the rest of the day>. lounge , though occasionally used as equal to idle or loaf, typically conveys an additional implication of resting or reclining against a support or of physical comfort and ease in relaxation <he lounged against the wall>. loll also carries an implication of a posture similar to that of lounge, but places greater stress upon an indolent or relaxed attitude <lolling on the couch>. laze usually implies the relaxation of a busy person enjoying a vacation or moments of leisure <lazed about between appointments>.

IDLE Defined for Kids



adjective \ˈī-dəl\

Definition of idle for Students

idler \ˈīd-lər\idlest \ˈīd-ləst\

  1. 1 :  not working or in use <idle workers> <idle farmland>

  2. 2 :  lazy 1

  3. 3 :  not based on anything real or serious <an idle threat>

idleness \ˈī-dəl-nəs\ noun
idly \ˈīd-lē\ adverb




Definition of idle for Students

idledidling \ˈīd-liŋ\

  1. 1 :  to spend time doing nothing <I idled away the afternoon.>

  2. 2 :  to run without being connected for doing useful work <The engine is idling.>

Seen and Heard

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to dishevel or rumple

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