\ 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

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 Still, the false idol of positional scarcity is still driving this runaway train. Michael Beller,, "Cody Bellinger, Madison Bumgarner Lead This Year's Crop of NL Fantasy Busts," 9 Mar. 2018 Perry became a teen idol playing the brooding bad boy Dylan McKay on the Fox drama between 1990 and 2000 before going on to star in movies like Buffy the Vampire Slayer and 8 Seconds. Caroline Picard, Good Housekeeping, "Luke Perry of 'Beverly Hills, 90210' and 'Riverdale' Is Hospitalized After Suffering a Stroke," 28 Feb. 2019 His idol was Humphrey Bogart, but such major stars traditionally were forbidden from performing risky stunts. Peter Cowie, WSJ, "High-Octane Cool," 8 Oct. 2018 But the Lazio star recently admitted that his idol growing up was Nemanja Matić, potentially opening the door to a move to Old Trafford., "Real Madrid Ready £132m Offer Plus Bonuses for In-Demand Lazio Star Amid Interest From Man Utd," 11 June 2018 Last night, American Idol brought their feud to the forefront again when a contestant told Perry that his musical idol was Taylor Swift. Rebecca Farley,, "American Idol Carries On Grand Tradition Of Fueling The Katy/Taylor Feud," 19 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

23 Apr 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).


having no equal

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Words from Greek and Latin Quiz

  • roman forum
  • Which of the following months comes from a Latin word for “ten”?
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!