in·​ac·​tion | \ (ˌ)i-ˈnak-shən How to pronounce inaction (audio) \

Definition of inaction

: lack of action or activity : idleness

Keep scrolling for more

Examples of inaction in a Sentence

The protesters criticized the administration's inaction on environmental issues. We must consider the consequences of continued inaction.

Recent Examples on the Web

Today, students in dozens of international cities took part in the Global Climate Strike, a worldwide rally that saw hundreds of thousands of youth protest government inaction in tackling climate change. Christian Allaire, Vogue, "Scenes From the Student-Led Global Climate Strike," 15 Mar. 2019 Earlier Monday Boyer vented about his dilemma on Facebook, fed up with inaction from Duke customer service. Chris Mayhew,, "Man finds out he pays Ohio River bridge's electric bill," 30 Apr. 2018 There are allegations in Courtney Smith’s account—her claims in her Stadium interview that her abuse was met with inaction by people close to her—that are truly heartbreaking. Jason Gay, WSJ, "Urban Meyer and the God Complex in College Sports," 3 Aug. 2018 Republicans huddled privately for two hours without a clear resolution on a seemingly intractable issue that pits conservative hard-liners aligned with President Trump against moderates frustrated with inaction. Mike Debonis,, "Ryan promises compromise ‘dreamers’ immigration bill despite GOP’s split," 8 June 2018 Gun-control groups have been spurred on by a younger generation impatient with inaction. Lisa Marie Pane And Jamie Stengle,, "NRA agenda stalls despite gun-friendly Congress, president," 2 May 2018 The free-rider problem should not be an excuse for inaction. Todd Davidson, Fortune, "Commentary: We Should Prepare for Climate Change Like We Prepare for War," 17 Apr. 2018 First, there’s Twitter’s bias toward inaction on almost all things; second, there’s its terror of being called partisan by conservatives or by Congress. Casey Newton, The Verge, "Why Facebook banned Alex Jones — and Twitter didn’t," 11 Aug. 2018 While the Fed’s inaction toward reinvestment is a welcome sign of continued economic confidence by the agency, investors have been richly rewarded during its extraordinary measures. Tom Hudson, miamiherald, "Testing the tempers of investors," 30 June 2018

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

1707, in the meaning defined above

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about inaction

Statistics for inaction

Last Updated

18 Apr 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for inaction

The first known use of inaction was in 1707

See more words from the same year

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for inaction



English Language Learners Definition of inaction

: failure to do something that should be done : lack of action or activity


in·​ac·​tion | \ i-ˈnak-shən How to pronounce inaction (audio) \

Kids Definition of inaction

: lack of action or activity Dove and Dusty were paralyzed into complete inaction.— Esther Forbes, Johnny Tremain

Keep scrolling for more

More from Merriam-Webster on inaction

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with inaction

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for inaction

Spanish Central: Translation of inaction

Nglish: Translation of inaction for Spanish Speakers

Comments on inaction

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


likely to have or produce good results

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”?
True or False

Test your knowledge - and maybe learn something along the way.


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!