\ 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

Keep scrolling for more

Synonyms for idol


god, hero, icon (also ikon)

Visit the Thesaurus for More 

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

One of his idols, Sean O’Casey, a great Irish dramatist, advised him to stop wasting his time with autographs and write something of his own. A.a.k. | Mumbai, The Economist, "Girish Karnad was one of India’s foremost storytellers," 12 June 2019 The members of the Beyhive are very protective of their idol. Chuck Schilken,, "Why are Beyonce fans sending death threats to the Warriors majority owner’s wife?," 7 June 2019 Her mighty singing voice is raspy and coquettish, with bombastic bursts of feeling, much like that of one of her idols, Eartha Kitt. Rachel Syme, The New Yorker, "Amber Gray’s Ferocious Twist on the Goddess Persephone in “Hadestown”," 6 June 2019 Martin truly came to prominence in the US during the late 1990s boom of teen idols. Dan Kopf, Quartzy, "This songwriter has 22 number one hits. Can you guess what they are?," 6 June 2019 Both stars have something in common—other than being inspiring, hard-working, and two of my idols—their taste in mattresses. Elizabeth Gulino, House Beautiful, "Oprah Winfrey and Serena Williams Swear By This Mattress," 12 Mar. 2019 Twitter Facebook − + Sunshine Gal • 4 days ago janet is def. a childhood idol of mine :). Rebecca Schiller, Billboard, "Ciara, Ne-Yo and Khalid Discuss Janet Jackson's Impact on Their Music," 19 May 2018 Having blond hair also afforded me the ability to channel some of my other favorite pop cultural idols. Gabe Bergado, Teen Vogue, "My Platinum Blond Hair Isn't a Rebellion Against My Asian Heritage," 16 May 2018 Most idols train for years in singing, dancing, acting and learning Asian languages before they are allowed to debut their first song. Yoonjung Seo, CNN, "K-pop stars to perform in North Korea in art troupe visit," 20 Mar. 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.

See More

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

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about idol

Dictionary Entries near idol








Statistics for idol

Last Updated

18 Jun 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for idol

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

See more words from the same century

Keep scrolling for more

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

Keep scrolling for more

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).


behavior toward others

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Words for Summer: A Quiz

  • a closeup of a sunflower
  • Which of the following words means “of or relating to summer”?
How Strong Is Your Vocabulary?

Test your vocabulary with our 10-question quiz!


Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!