\ 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

Unlike DiCaprio, however, these girls can touch their idols, even demand the selfies and hugs and kisses that their convention ticket money entitles them to. Josephine Livingstone, The New Republic, "Jawline Explores the Teenage Dream of Social Media," 22 Aug. 2019 Eilish released a single remix in July that also happened to feature Bieber, her longtime idol. Washington Post, "Billie Eilish dethrones Lil Nas X with her first Billboard No. 1," 19 Aug. 2019 In China, fans girls come from all backgrounds and are bound together by a selfless love for their idols. Youyou Zhou, Quartz, "China’s fan-girl culture is mobilizing against the Hong Kong protests," 18 Aug. 2019 After meeting director Gurinder Chadha years later and deciding to collaborate on a film adaptation, Manzoor wrote his idol what was essentially a 1,000-word fan latter asking for music rights. Patrick Ryan, USA TODAY, "This Springsteen superfan has been to 150 shows. Now he has a movie, 'Blinded by the Light'," 12 Aug. 2019 To ignore that Priestley perfectly deconstructed his teen idol iconography in Love and Death in Long Island? Daniel Fienberg, The Hollywood Reporter, "'BH90210': TV Review," 7 Aug. 2019 The tournament is accessible for young kids and casual fans, and also allows die-hards to see their idols up close and personal. Jon Wertheim,, "Mailbag: What Should We Make of Another Nick Kyrgios Title?," 7 Aug. 2019 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

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

27 Aug 2019

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 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).


readily or continually undergoing change

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