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

Drivers unnecessary idle, waste fuel, cause air pollution, get frustrated and suffer more travel time. Dp Opinion, The Denver Post, "Letters: Left behind in the left-turn lane; Bringing a knife to a gunfight; Require consent for pelvic exams (6/20/19)," 20 June 2019 Beneath its twin parabolic arches, there’s a big, round, glass-walled dining room (now idle) that generations of confused travelers have mistaken for the airport’s traffic control tower. Christopher Reynolds, latimes.com, "Is LAX's Theme Building coming back to life as part of an on-airport hotel?," 12 June 2019 His father, 17 years her senior, was an accountant, highly competent but idle, who worked briefly as Rita Hayworth’s business manager. The Economist, "James Ellroy finally has happiness in his sights," 8 June 2019 When idle, the Mac Pro is quieter than an iMac Pro. Samuel Axon, Ars Technica, "Our first-look photos of Apple’s new Mac Pro and the Pro Display XDR," 4 June 2019 Dave Kallmann, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel Once the host of more than a half-dozen major races a season, the 106-year-old Milwaukee Mile has sat relatively idle the past four years. Dave Kallmann, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Here's what you need to know about the return of racing to the Milwaukee Mile this weekend," 21 Feb. 2019 Excavators for the rail projects are idle, and workers’ quarters are vacant. Bradley Hope, WSJ, "WSJ Investigation: China Offered to Bail Out Troubled Malaysian Fund in Return for Deals," 7 Jan. 2019 But where Big Little Lies tackled the not-so-idle rich of Monterey, California, Big Little Lies is all Southern gothic, set in a tiny Missouri town with a legacy of trauma and a seeming serial killer haunting its present. Todd Vanderwerff, Vox, "From Succession to Pose, Sharp Objects to Castle Rock, this summer has featured some terrific TV.," 1 Sep. 2018 Even with the units idle, there still have been plenty of alternative sources of electricity. Hal Bernton, The Seattle Times, "Puget Sound Energy looks elsewhere for power as pollution-test failure idles most of Montana coal plant," 27 July 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

What was once a Maserati savior is now idling at the sidelines. Mark Maynard, San Diego Union-Tribune, "2019 Maserati Ghibli S Q4: from savior to the sidelines," 7 July 2019 The bulk of its fuel savings come during the five hours Ford estimates a police car spends idling during a typical eight-hour shift. CBS News, "Fleet of the future: Inside the NYPD's new hybrid cars," 6 July 2019 Officers also stopped an SUV that was idling in a parking lot across the street from where the shooting occurred. Evan Macdonald, cleveland.com, "Cleveland man shot while trying to buy marijuana in Detroit-Shoreway neighborhood," 5 July 2019 Flint Hills Resources announced this week that the Duonix Beatrice plant is being idled indefinitely. USA TODAY, "Robot hostesses, veggie booze, ‘civil death’: News from around our 50 states," 4 July 2019 Reuters Renault and Nissan The alliance between Renault and Nissan is falling apart, according to the Financial Times, which reports that several joint business functions are idling or being shuttered. Alan Murray, Fortune, "More on Facebook’s Libra: CEO Daily," 19 June 2019 When someone responded, PCBA sent boxes of tracts with a letter explaining the mission and places to drop them: laundromats, bowling alleys, public restrooms, anywhere undecided voters might be idling. Brendan Kiley, The Seattle Times, "Seattle-based Patriotic Christians for a Better America spreads anti-Trump gospel with cartoons," 26 Mar. 2019 In the seven seconds before the crash, the crew sounded the horn, flipped the throttle to idle and hit the emergency brake. Matthew Haag, New York Times, "Signal System Was Down for Safety Upgrades Before Fatal Amtrak Crash, Authorities Say," 5 Feb. 2018 Customers who come for the handcrafted pieces from Lebanon are likely to idle and that’s by design. Laird Borrelli-persson, Vogue, "This Is the Paris Shop Where Haider Ackermann Buys Slippers," 23 Jan. 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

10 Jul 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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