idle

adjective
\ ˈī-dᵊl How to pronounce idle (audio) \
idler\ ˈīd-​lər How to pronounce idler (audio) , ˈī-​dᵊl-​ər \; idlest\ ˈīd-​ləst How to pronounce idlest (audio) , ˈī-​dᵊl-​əst \

Definition of idle

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : not occupied or employed: such 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
2 : lacking worth or basis : vain idle chatter idle pleasure
3a : shiftless, lazy
b : having no evident lawful means of support

idle

verb
idled; idling\ ˈīd-​liŋ How to pronounce idling (audio) , ˈī-​dᵊl-​iŋ \

Definition of idle (Entry 2 of 2)

intransitive verb

1 : to run at low power and often disconnected usually so that power is not used for useful work the engine is idling
2a : to spend time in idleness
b : to move idly

transitive verb

1 : to pass in idleness
2 : to cause to idle
3 : to make idle workers idled by a strike

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Other Words from idle

Adjective

idleness \ ˈī-​dᵊl-​nəs How to pronounce idleness (audio) \ noun
idly \ ˈīd-​lē How to pronounce idly (audio) , ˈī-​dᵊl-​ē \ adverb

Verb

idler \ ˈīd-​lər How to pronounce idler (audio) , ˈī-​dᵊl-​ər \ noun

Choose the Right Synonym for idle

Adjective

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

Verb

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

Examples of idle in a Sentence

Adjective

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

Verb

She left the engine idling for a few seconds before she turned it off. The cars idled in traffic. A group of boys idled in the doorway. The factory closed, idling several hundred workers. Thousands of workers have been idled by the bad economy. The factory has been idled by the strike.
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Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective

Search and Deploy The deployable black box side has not been idle. Joe Pappalardo, Popular Mechanics, "Why We Need a New Black Box," 7 May 2019 Never trailing by more than 13, but never cutting the game closer than four, NKU relentless scrapped to remain idle. Charlie Hatch, Cincinnati.com, "NKU loses 83-70 to Oakland as Kendrick Nunn scores 33," 27 Jan. 2018 The 1933 Agricultural Adjustment Act, part of the Depression-era New Deal, introduced government price supports, paying farmers to leave grain and cotton fields idle and shrink hog herds. Jacob Bunge, WSJ, "How Farm Aid Became a Fixture," 26 July 2018 The blood on your pitchfork still dripping because the mob has always got a thirst for scalps and without the swarm, these lonely people are just idle cranks. Fox News, "Gutfeld: It's the cry babies vs. the jerk," 8 Sep. 2018 This astonishing level of idle cash suggests that net shareholder payouts may actually be too low. Jesse M. Fried And, WSJ, "The Real Problem With Stock Buybacks," 6 July 2018 Beyond the varied play and lush artwork, Crash also has a number of idle animations added for the remake. Harold Goldberg, chicagotribune.com, "Classic games, lovingly reimagined in 'Crash Bandicoot N. Sane Trilogy'," 13 July 2018 Five miles south, in the Balham district, builders driving white Ford vans idle outside the Plumb and Parts Centre on Zennor Road, a 40-minute drive and a world away from the luxury stores of the West End. Fortune, "This Is London's Hottest Property — Thanks to Amazon," 13 July 2018 The split got the Phillies to 50 wins and allowed them to remain tied for first place with the idle Atlanta Braves in the National League East. Bob Brookover, Philly.com, "Phillies prospect Enyel De Los Santos making his MLB debut | Extra Innings," 10 July 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

Miles of vehicles idling in gridlock have reduced air quality to 1980s levels. Christopher D. Legras, WSJ, "Vision Zero, a ‘Road Diet’ Fad, Is Proving to Be Deadly," 18 Jan. 2019 The argument against tolling was straightforward: Tollbooths cause congestion and delays; idling cars waste gas and spew... Peter Funt, WSJ, "Toll Roads Tax the Poor," 9 Apr. 2019 Even though warm air generated by the heater core will flow into the cabin after a few minutes, idling does surprisingly little to warm the actual engine. Jay Bennett, Popular Mechanics, "Warming Up Your Car in the Cold Just Harms the Engine," 28 Dec. 2018 Sitting in a car while idling can be deadly if the tailpipe is blocked. BostonGlobe.com, "Four’easter: Another storm begins to hit Massachusetts," 21 Mar. 2018 As police worked on the road, a different driver approached the lanes and idled for several minutes before one of the officers approached. Dan Morse, Washington Post, "Another astonishing DUI arrest in Montgomery Co., Md.: Driver with no headlights runs red light, hits car after police chase in snow.," 4 Jan. 2018 The opportunity afforded by the plant came to a halt at the end of 2015, when the plant idled production, laying off 2,000 people. Samantha Bomkamp, chicagotribune.com, "The Illinois town where Trump's tariffs have provided jobs, and a sigh of relief," 6 July 2018 As automotive technology continually improves, connected cars can radically enhance your driving – and even idling in a driveway can be a dynamic experience. Kim Komando, USA TODAY, "5 essential tech options for your new car," 6 July 2018 Two of Acacia’s three mines in the country have been idled by the ban. Jacquie Mcnish, WSJ, "New Barrick Gold CEO Says Joining With Rival at Some Mines Would Make Sense," 13 Feb. 2019

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.

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First Known Use of idle

Adjective

before the 12th century, in the meaning defined at sense 2

Verb

1592, in the meaning defined at intransitive sense 2a

History and Etymology for idle

Adjective

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

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Statistics for idle

Last Updated

15 May 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for idle

The first known use of idle was before the 12th century

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More Definitions for idle

idle

adjective

English Language Learners Definition of idle

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: not working, active, or being used
: not having any real purpose or value
: not having much activity

idle

verb

English Language Learners Definition of idle (Entry 2 of 2)

of an engine or vehicle : to run without being connected for doing useful work
: to spend time doing nothing or nothing useful
US : to cause (someone or something) to stop working : to make (someone or something) idle

idle

adjective
\ ˈī-dᵊl How to pronounce idle (audio) \
idler\ ˈīd-​lər \; idlest\ ˈīd-​ləst \

Kids Definition of idle

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : not working or in use idle workers idle farmland
3 : not based on anything real or serious an idle threat

Other Words from idle

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

idle

verb
idled; idling\ ˈīd-​liŋ \

Kids Definition of idle (Entry 2 of 2)

1 : to spend time doing nothing I idled away the afternoon.
2 : to run without being connected for doing useful work The engine is idling.

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More from Merriam-Webster on idle

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with idle

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for idle

Spanish Central: Translation of idle

Nglish: Translation of idle for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of idle for Arabic Speakers

Comments on idle

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