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do-noth·​ing ˈdü-ˌnə-thiŋ How to pronounce do-nothing (audio)
: a shiftless or lazy person


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: marked by inactivity or failure to make positive progress
do-nothingism noun

Examples of do-nothing in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web
Creative job crafting and simple nudges, such as encouraging do-nothing zone-out breaks, could help to alleviate the demands that modern workers experience that deplete their resources and block their recovery for feeling fresh and ready to engage with work the following day. Melissa A. Wheeler, Forbes, 15 Feb. 2024 How many of those attacks are attributed to Harris’s do-nothing legislative agenda? Reader Commentary, Baltimore Sun, 2 Feb. 2024 Black plays Malcolm, the latter's do-nothing, creative-type fiancé who can be seen scrambling down a long set of beach stairs in the wake of an embarrassing disclosure, or curating a destructive visual gag. Erik Adams,, 18 July 2023 Jackie Calmes: 2023 was the year of the do-nothing House Republicans. Shelby Grad, Los Angeles Times, 5 Jan. 2024 You drug pushers, hold-up men, and do-nothings . . . David Remnick, The New Yorker, 4 Oct. 2023 In his view, Modi’s new design is a clever bid to present a do-nothing legislature to the public. Daniel Brook, The New Yorker, 7 Sep. 2023 And these do-nothing Republicans are buttressed by their fossil fuel friends who have known for decades the climate and environmental risks of their vampiristic activities—and have kept on drilling anyway. Prem Thakker, The New Republic, 19 July 2023 Space-race billionaires, self-indulgent AIDS plays, do-nothing philanthropic organizations: All got their moment under the show’s withering gaze, in between note-perfect references to everything and everyone from Lukas Gage to Pleasantville. Angie Han, The Hollywood Reporter, 29 June 2023 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'do-nothing.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History

First Known Use


1579, in the meaning defined above


1832, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of do-nothing was in 1579

Dictionary Entries Near do-nothing

Cite this Entry

“Do-nothing.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 4 Mar. 2024.

Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
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