\ ˈīd-lē How to pronounce idly (audio) , ˈī-dᵊl-ē \

Definition of idly

: in an idle manner: such as
a : without much thought, effort or attention idly staring out the window idly flipping from one channel to another Harry … doodled idly on his parchment ignoring Hermione's frequent glares and nudges …— J. K. Rowling
b : in a lazy or inactive manner or state sat with her hands resting idly in her lap spent the day lying idly on the couch Barber left London the next day, and for six months sat idly in Addis Ababa waiting for something to happen.— Waverly Root
c : without taking any action "The time has come to speak," she said. "I cannot stand idly by [=do nothing] and see a young man going to perdition!"— P. G. Wodehouse … a party who has been wronged by a breach of contract may not unreasonably sit idly by and allow damages to accumulate.— John D. Calamari and Joseph M. Perillo

First Known Use of idly

before the 12th century, in the meaning defined above

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

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Dictionary Entries Near idly

idle threat



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Cite this Entry

“Idly.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 23 May. 2022.

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More from Merriam-Webster on idly

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for idly

Nglish: Translation of idly for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of idly for Arabic Speakers


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