idle

adjective
\ˈī-dᵊl \
idler\ˈīd-lər, ˈī-dᵊl-ər \; idlest\ˈīd-ləst, 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, 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 \ noun
idly \ˈīd-lē, ˈī-dᵊl-ē \ adverb

Verb

idler \ˈīd-lər, 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

But the Marlins aren’t expected to remain idle at the deadline. Clark Spencer, miamiherald, "Which Marlins are more likely to be traded before the July 31 deadline?," 11 July 2018 For example, with the computer program Einstein@Home, anyone can use their computer’s idle time to help search for gravitational waves from colliding black holes. Eileen Meyer, Smithsonian, "Big Data is Transforming How Astronomers Make Discoveries," 15 May 2018 The Heat are idle Monday before a 4:30 p.m. Eastern game Tuesday against the Utah Jazz at the Thomas & Mack Center. Ira Winderman, Sun-Sentinel.com, "Heat's Derrick Jones Jr. sprains ankle in loss at summer league," 8 July 2018 All the fireworks and BBQs and (let’s be honest) idle binge-watching are still a few days away. Yang-yi Goh, GQ, "19 Killer Buys from the Best Fourth of July Sales," 29 June 2018 According to resident Bill Wetterau, the site sat idle and overgrown for five years after the project foreclosed. Henry Morgan, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "A new 700,000-square-foot Briggs & Stratton facility could be open by April 2019 in Germantown," 20 June 2018 Chinese importers seeking alternative sources of sorghum as risks of a trade spat with the U.S. linger are finding Nigeria, the world’s second-largest producer, unable to fill the gap as violence in producing regions leave fields idle. Ruth Olurounbi, Bloomberg.com, "Nigeria Conflict Stops Sorghum Farmers’ Bid to Benefit From Trump," 27 May 2018 Just seven months after opening its new paper tape plant, the machines now stand idle, shutting down alongside the layoffs. NBC News, "Trump's trade war might close down America's last nail factory — but workers remain diehard Trump fans," 29 June 2018 Stephenson then sat idle for a few months before playing on two 10-day contracts with the Timberwolves. Rohan Nadkarni, SI.com, "The LeBron Vs. Lance Relationship Hasn't Changed At All," 25 Apr. 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

Argonne researchers have been itching to get started on the project, but it has largely idled while the Office of Science budget stagnated. Adrian Cho, Science | AAAS, "Science at Department of Energy gets a hefty raise in final 2018 budget," 23 Mar. 2018 Helicopters buzzed overhead and a large fleet of ambulances idled nearby. Will Bunch, Philly.com, "The world shows its love to kids in a Thai cave. We need that same love for kids at the border | Will Bunch," 8 July 2018 Long Island City suffered from the Long Island Rail Road’s throbbing diesel locomotives idling in the train yard. New York Times, "Trading Chelsea Clatter for Greenpoint Calm," 5 July 2018 Expanding mass transit is seen as a key step toward solving Atlanta’s traffic problems and the air pollution from cars idling in rush-hour gridlock. Washington Post, "Transit plan may test changing vision of Atlanta’s suburbs," 2 May 2018 Mikula added that a roundabout would mean no more stopped cars idling and emitting fumes, another complaint of residents. Bob Sandrick, cleveland.com, "Strongsville considers building roundabout at Howe and Shurmer roads near SouthPark Mall," 10 Apr. 2018 But Angle thinks the change will mean more cars lining up on Lombard Street itself and having to idle even longer. Heather Knight, SFChronicle.com, "Car break-in crackdown bill made perfect sense. California lawmakers killed it," 15 June 2018 Travolta, 64, a Hollywood survivor, has been around long enough to know how vulnerable newspaper journalists are to idle flattery, especially about newspapers. Gary Thompson, Philly.com, "John Travolta talks about 'Gotti' and whether Sandy is really dead in 'Grease'," 14 June 2018 Other cities have passed their own car idling laws, though those recent efforts appear to be motivated by environmental concerns. Nashelly Chavez, sacbee, "A Sacramento man was arrested after he left his car idling. That's a law? | The Sacramento Bee," 14 May 2018

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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Phrases Related to idle

idle rich

idle threat

idle/empty threat

Statistics for idle

Last Updated

16 Oct 2018

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

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

idle

adjective
\ˈī-dᵊl \
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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