\ ˈī-dᵊl How to pronounce idol (audio) \

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

Detroit Lions' Family Fest open practice was highlighted by Calder Hodge, 13, who got to meet his idol Matthew Stafford, and run a play, Aug. 2, 2019. Dave Birkett, Detroit Free Press, "Inspirational double-amputee QB Calder Hodge throws TD at Lions practice," 2 Aug. 2019 But it could be argued—and indeed is argued by Atkins in the film—that the film industry’s bloodthirst corrupted a generation that then murdered its idols. Spencer Kornhaber, The Atlantic, "Quentin Tarantino’s Ultimate Statement on Movie Violence," 2 Aug. 2019 His family said Wold’s favorite players were Khris Davis and Matt Olson, but when posed the question again, Wold listed off Treinen, Phegley and Matt Chapman as his baseball idols. Shayna Rubin, The Mercury News, "Wish Kid August Wold spends the day as an Oakland Athletic," 27 July 2019 He was inspired to come out of the closet after his idol, gay rights activist Harvey Milk, was assassinated in 1978. Julie Compton, NBC News, "#Pride50: Jerry Mallicoat — Advocate for LGBTQ elders," 3 June 2019 The 37-year-old Democrat isn’t yet in a financial league with his boyhood idol Sen. Bernie Sanders, who raked in more than $18 million. James Freeman, WSJ, "Is Buttigieg the Baby Bernie?," 2 Apr. 2019 His ring total is apt since his lucky number is 7, the jersey number of Yankees great Mickey Mantle, his boyhood idol. Tom Fitzgerald,, "Ex-49ers exec Neal Dahlen has more Super Bowl rings than anyone but Bill Belichick," 12 July 2019 And then there is Lionel Messi, the very best in the world, my idol., "Frenkie de Jong Reveals He Dreamed of Premier League Move Before Signing for Barcelona," 11 July 2019 Osaka defeated her childhood idol 6-2, 6-4, and became the first tennis player born in Japan to win a Grand Slam tournament. Janelle Griffith, NBC News, "Serena Williams opens up about 2018 U.S. Open loss and her apology to Naomi Osaka," 9 July 2019

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

13 Aug 2019

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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 How to pronounce idol (audio) \

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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More from Merriam-Webster on idol

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with idol

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for idol

Spanish Central: Translation of idol

Nglish: Translation of idol for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of idol for Arabic Speakers

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).


of or relating to the heavens

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