\ˈī-dᵊl \

Definition of idol 

1 : an object of extreme devotion a movie idol also : ideal sense 2

2 : a representation or symbol of an object of worship broadly : a false god

3a : a likeness of something

b obsolete : pretender, impostor

4 : a false conception : fallacy

5 : a form or appearance visible but without substance an enchanted phantom, a lifeless idol— P. B. Shelley

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Synonyms for idol


god, hero, icon (also ikon)

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Examples of idol in a Sentence

an actor who is the idol of millions a movie idol whose reprehensible offscreen behavior caused him to experience a spectacular fall from grace

Recent Examples on the Web

Two weeks remain until Egypt’s debut against Uruguay, and the entire nation will hang on to hope for the speedy recovery of their idol. Juan Pimiento,, "Zidane's shocking departure, Salah's World Cup and the best of the week in soccer," 31 May 2018 Then the team of researchers who published this latest study took samples from the core of the idol in 2014, and that sample pushed the original date of the piece back even further. Julissa Treviño, Smithsonian, "Wooden Statue Found in Late 1890s Likely Dates Back More Than 11,000 Years," 27 Apr. 2018 His idol was Woods, who clinched his breakthrough 1997 Masters win when Rory was not quite eight. Rob Hodgetts, CNN, "Rory McIlroy: The Holywood star with box-office appeal," 29 Mar. 2018 First finding an audience with a series of YouTube covers as kids, Chloe and Halle (stylized Chloe x Halle) also caught the ear of their idol Beyoncé, leading her to sign them to her record label, Parkwood Entertainment. Raisa Bruner, Time, "Beyoncé Protégés Chloe x Halle Are Here to Prove That The Kids Are Alright," 23 Mar. 2018 The Satanic Temple, an religious organization, has made headlines in recent years as a foil to religious influence in government, pushing for after-school programs and a statue of the idol Baphomet on public grounds. Josh Hafner, USA TODAY, "Satanic Temple challenges abortion law in Missouri Supreme Court," 25 Jan. 2018 Once inside, you're greeted by a cheap vinyl highback chair that appears to have spent its past life in a salon... well as an electric lamp and a replica of the idol from Raiders of the Lost Ark. Diana Bruk, Popular Mechanics, "This Guy Built His Own Smoking Lounge Behind a Secret Bookcase," 20 Aug. 2015 This was a tough one because Samantha Jones is my idol. Emilia Petrarca, The Cut, "12 Fashion People on the Sex and the City Looks They’re Still Obsessed With," 8 June 2018 And you like a guy with no teeth, that's your idol? Fox News, "Joe diGenova: IG report is being scrubbed by Rosenstein," 6 June 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'idol.' 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 idol

13th century, in the meaning defined at sense 2

History and Etymology for idol

Middle English, from Anglo-French idle, from Late Latin idolum, from Greek eidōlon image, idol; akin to Greek eidos form — more at idyll

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Statistics for idol

Last Updated

5 Nov 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for idol

The first known use of idol was in the 13th century

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More Definitions for idol



English Language Learners Definition of idol

: a greatly loved or admired person

: a picture or object that is worshipped as a god


\ˈī-dᵊl \

Kids Definition of idol

1 : an image worshipped as a god

2 : a much loved or admired person or thing a movie idol

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Comments on idol

What made you want to look up idol? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


obstinately defiant of authority

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