idle

adjective
\ ˈī-dᵊl How to pronounce idle (audio) \
idler\ ˈīd-​lər How to pronounce idle (audio) , ˈī-​dᵊl-​ər \; idlest\ ˈīd-​ləst How to pronounce idle (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 idle (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 idle (audio) \ 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 Keith Strier, Nvidia’s VP of worldwide AI initiatives, envisions a world in which government fleets of autonomous vehicles that sit idle at night are harnessed to address the compute needs of nations that don’t own expensive supercomputers. Khari Johnson, Wired, 19 July 2021 According to its calculations, 9 billion clothing items sit idle in consumers’ wardrobes, going unworn, and 34 billion products are being thrown away. Sharon Edelson, Forbes, 24 June 2021 The White House called for a $5 billion investment in the remediation and redevelopment of former industrial and energy sites that now sit idle and are sources of blight and pollution. Katie Lobosco, CNN, 3 June 2021 Leigha Horton of Silvae Spiritus, a nature and forest therapy business, said public classes are revving up again after being idle last year. Bob Timmons, Star Tribune, 1 July 2021 Aside from a couple of rehearsals, the nationally touring band, founded in Fort Lauderdale in 2005, has been idle. Ben Crandell, sun-sentinel.com, 21 June 2021 The orbiting observatory has been idle since Sunday when a 1980s-era computer that controls the science instruments shut down, possibly because of a bad memory board. Fox News, 17 June 2021 This season, Beckham and Landry have some excellent talent behind them in Rashard Higgins, Donovan Peoples-Jones, KhaDarel Hodge and third-round pick Anthony Schwartz, who’s been idle since rookie camp with a hamstring injury. cleveland, 17 June 2021 Bob Dylan hasn't exactly been idle during the pandemic. Jon Bream, Star Tribune, 16 June 2021 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb Maricopa County's air pollution ordinances do not allow large diesel vehicles to idle for more than 60 minutes during a 90-minute period. Jessica Boehm, The Arizona Republic, 19 July 2021 In fact, starting Monday, GM will idle its midsize SUV plants for two weeks due to the shortage of chips parts. Jamie L. Lareau, Detroit Free Press, 17 July 2021 Car makers have had to idle plants for a lack of chips and prices of some electronic goods are rising as a result. Aaron Tilley, WSJ, 16 July 2021 Many automakers have had to idle plants for a week or two at a time in the first half of 2021. New York Times, 15 July 2021 Mazda, Nissan, Stellantis, and Subaru all announced this week new plans to idle plants in July as a result of the shortage. Annie White, Car and Driver, 25 June 2021 The twin engines of the Horizon Air Bombardier Dash 8 Q400 aircraft had been set to idle. Tim Dickinson, Rolling Stone, 24 June 2021 But reservoirs are drying up, with water levels falling so low in Lake Oroville that officials are weighing whether to idle the area’s hydropower plant for the first time ever. Washington Post, 18 June 2021 Since early this year the auto industry has had to either idle assembly plants or build vehicles shy of all the parts and then park them to await the arrival of chips. oregonlive, 9 June 2021

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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Time Traveler for idle

Time Traveler

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

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Dictionary Entries Near idle

IDK

idle

idleby

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Statistics for idle

Last Updated

22 Jul 2021

Cite this Entry

“Idle.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/idle. Accessed 29 Jul. 2021.

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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.

More from Merriam-Webster on idle

Nglish: Translation of idle for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of idle for Arabic Speakers

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