1

idle

play
adjective \ˈī-dəl\

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: such asa :  having no employment :  inactive idle workersb :  not turned to normal or appropriate use idle farmlandc :  not scheduled to compete the team will be idle tomorrow

  3. 3a :  shiftless, lazyb :  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

Recent Examples of idle from the Web

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'idle'. Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

Origin and Etymology of idle

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

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

2

idle

verb

Definition of idle

idled

;

idling

play \ˈīd-liŋ, ˈī-dəl-iŋ\
  1. intransitive verb
  2. 1a :  to spend time in idlenessb :  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.

Recent Examples of idle from the Web

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'idle'. Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

First Known Use of idle

1592

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 English Language Learners

idle

play
adjective

Definition of idle for English Language Learners

  • : not working, active, or being used

  • : not having any real purpose or value

  • : not having much activity

idle

verb

Definition of idle for English Language Learners

  • 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


IDLE Defined for Kids

1

idle

play
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

2

idle

play
verb

Definition of idle for Students

idled

;

idling

\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

What made you want to look up idle? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!

WORD OF THE DAY

a severe test

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

The Emoji Quiz

  • emoji-the-quiz
  • What phase of the moon is this: 🌖 ?
How Strong Is Your Vocabulary?

Test your vocabulary with our 10-question quiz!

TAKE THE QUIZ
Word Winder's CrossWinder

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

TAKE THE QUIZ

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!