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

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 Trump’s determination to conciliate Putin can’t be dismissed as casual trolling or some idle attraction to a friendly face. Jonathan Chait, Daily Intelligencer, "Will Trump Be Meeting With His Counterpart — Or His Handler?," 8 July 2018 Both goals were a result of some idle movements within Sporting KC’s structure — the first on its failure to close the distance in Piatti’s shooting lane and the second on its inability to clear a ball from danger. Sam Mcdowell, kansascity, "Montreal pitches shut out, ends Sporting KC's nine-game unbeaten streak," 30 June 2018 One way of doing that is to quickly find new owners for idle steel plants and other assets, so they can be brought back online. Iain Marlow, Bloomberg.com, "India’s Push to Fast-Track Bankruptcies," 26 June 2018 No bathroom, no buying hot dogs, no idle chatter in a concourse. Paul Daugherty, Cincinnati.com, "Paul Daugherty: Scouting amateur baseball players is like reading Faulkner blindfolded," 5 June 2018 Loose fibres blow around the idle machines at UTEXRWA, a textiles and garment factory in Kigali. The Economist, "Rwanda refuses to remove tariffs on imports of used clothing," 31 May 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

The public's awareness of car theft, often a crime of opportunity as thieves hop in idling cars, has not reduced prevalence in recent months. Kyle Hopkins, Anchorage Daily News, "After a record year for property crime in Anchorage, car thefts are skyrocketing in 2018," 28 June 2018 Nearly half of the returning 800 U.S. Steel jobs will be filled with employees who were laid off in 2015 when the plant was idled, said spokeswoman Meghan Cox, who wouldn’t disclose salary ranges for the jobs. Samantha Bomkamp, latimes.com, "In this small steel town, Trump's tariffs have been met with a sigh of relief," 9 July 2018 The energy shift Nearly half of the returning 800 U.S. Steel jobs will be filled with employees who were laid off in 2015 when the plant was idled, according to spokeswoman Meghan Cox, who wouldn’t disclose salary ranges for the jobs. Samantha Bomkamp, chicagotribune.com, "The Illinois town where Trump's tariffs have provided jobs, and a sigh of relief," 6 July 2018 Ward was idled for precautionary reasons, Jackson said. Mary Kay Cabot, cleveland.com, "Denzel Ward idle with hip flexor and Antonio Callaway suffers toe injury on Day 2 of Browns rookie camp," 5 May 2018 This month, Fiat Chrysler is scheduled to begin making a new light-duty Ram 1500 truck at a plant in Sterling Heights, Mich., that made sedans until it was idled two years ago. Neal E. Boudette, New York Times, "Fiat Chrysler to Spend $1 Billion to Modernize Michigan Plant," 11 Jan. 2018 Step 4: Start the working car and run it at idling speed for a few minutes. Jasmin Radoncic, Good Housekeeping, "How to Use Jumper Cables and Jump Start a Car the Right Way," 5 Dec. 2018 In Lordstown, Ohio, where GM is idling production, there’s a low concentration of automotive jobs outside those tied to the plant. Eric Morath, WSJ, "GM Closings a Fresh Sign of Worry for Economy," 26 Nov. 2018 Individuals can reduce their contributions by turning off their vehicle's engine rather than idling. Kate Talerico, The Courier-Journal, "Louisville had worst air quality in country last weekend," 21 June 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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Statistics for idle

Last Updated

6 Feb 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 \
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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