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

Notable were the summer family motor home trips, caravan style with friends, throughout the 48 states, European buying trips and later his acquisition of an up to date motor home which rarely sat idle. sun-sentinel.com, "Deaths in South Florida: 7/12," 12 July 2019 The court, though, sits idle, a repository for weeds and wildlife. Jon Wertheim, SI.com, "She's a Transgender Pioneer, But Renée Richards Prefers to Stay Out of the Spotlight," 28 June 2019 Axel Sjoberg and Dillon Serna are both sitting idle on the bench, although neither has distinguished themselves this year, so don’t expect much of a return for either. Mark Goodman, The Denver Post, "Backpass: The Rapids are going to “take the L” against LAFC," 28 June 2019 Alcoa recently restarted a portion of its idle smelter in southern Indiana but has refrained from restarting other curtailed smelters in the U.S. because of high electricity costs. Bob Tita, WSJ, "Alcoa Raises Profit Outlook as Tariffs Lift Aluminum Prices," 17 Oct. 2018 As Britain waits by the EU’s exit door and focuses on its leadership contest, President Emmanuel Macron has not been idle. The Economist, "Britain humbled after Donald Trump pushes out its ambassador," 11 July 2019 Its 143 table games and 88 poker games were idle, but will begin accepting bets on Sunday morning. Joshua Miller, BostonGlobe.com, "Casino is phase one of ‘the entertainment district in the Northeast,’ exec says," 21 June 2019 The sleek, spider-like Theme Building, built in 1961 to welcome the jet age, is one of the most iconic structures in Los Angeles, but its upstairs restaurant area has been idle since the start of 2014 and its observation deck is closed indefinitely. Christopher Reynolds, latimes.com, "At LAX, they’re sifting ideas for a hotel and revival of the Theme Building," 18 June 2019 Orlando has been idle since falling 3-0 to the North Carolina Courage on June 1. Iliana Limón Romero, Pro Soccer USA, "Orlando Pride chase elusive win on road against Houston Dash," 16 June 2019

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

Regina Duley is one of about 100 workers remaining at a GM transmission plant in Warren, Mich., who face their last week at work before their factory is idled. David Welch, Los Angeles Times, "GM’s Mexico-made Chevy Blazer becomes a political pariah for auto workers," 1 Aug. 2019 Today, trucking companies have removed much of this decision making from truckers, relying instead on algorithms that monitor fuel efficiency, idling time, location, braking and acceleration, and maintenance needs. Noam Scheiber, New York Times, "Inside an Amazon Warehouse, Robots’ Ways Rub Off on Humans," 3 July 2019 Then George idled by the doorway, hunched into his coat. Emma Cline, The New Yorker, "Son of Friedman," 24 June 2019 These are not paid if the plant is idled and do go up and down with the level of output. Edward Lotterman, Twin Cities, "Real World Economics: Oil prices, war, and a bad corn crop," 23 June 2019 Bristol-based Theis Precision Steel USA is laying off about 30 of its 35 workers and will idle its plant of more than 300,000 square feet, the company told city officials Tuesday. Don Stacom, courant.com, "Theis laying off nearly all of its workforce in Bristol," 18 June 2019 Auto production fell 24%, the most on record, as carmakers idled factories around the original March 29 deadline for Brexit. Charles Riley, CNN, "Brexit chaos could push the UK economy into reverse this quarter," 10 June 2019 After helping release the 40 big channel catfish into Raven, Best and coworker Carl Vignali launched a boat and idled to a shoreline where nearshore water was dotted with dozens of white floats. Shannon Tompkins, ExpressNews.com, "Fish in a barrel, or how to spawn cats in a small lake," 6 June 2019 The trucks were backed up diagonally onto the sidewalk, their engines idling. Caleb Crain, Harper's magazine, "Talkin’ ’Bout a Revolution," 22 July 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

7 Aug 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

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