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

Definition of inaction

: lack of action or activity : idleness

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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

Thunberg began her own activism by skipping school to protest climate-change inaction outside Swedish Parliament in August 2018. Fox News, "Teen climate crusader Greta Thunberg completes carbon-free voyage by yacht from Europe to New York City," 29 Aug. 2019 For local and national governments, inaction is a dereliction of duty to future generations. The Economist, "One way or another the deluge is coming," 15 Aug. 2019 When someone in Wisconsin dies as the result of police action — or, interestingly, inaction — the state requires investigation by an independent agency. Sue Mcmillin, The Denver Post, "McMillin: De’Von Bailey’s family shouldn’t have to request a truly independent investigation," 13 Aug. 2019 While some have been driven to protest and anger at the government’s inaction to the massacres of civilians, the latest in El Paso and Dayton; others have been driven to prayer and peacemaking. Elaine Ayala,, "San Antonio joined Compassionate and Sister Cities in prayer and in tears," 13 Aug. 2019 But hope reminds us that, whatever the cause of his apparent silence or inaction, God is in fact always helping us in the way that is best for us, and that God is never far from those who need his help to bear suffering well. Kathryn Jean Lopez, National Review, "Could You Use Some Hope?," 10 Aug. 2019 The near-total inaction of the US government in response to these attacks comes despite public opinion surveys that show support for expanded background checks and limits on military style weapons. Tim Fernholz, Quartz, "America’s mass shootings are a political choice," 6 Aug. 2019 America’s inaction on gun safety legislation is the problem. NBC News, "2020 candidates blast Trump remarks on mass shootings," 5 Aug. 2019 Despite being in the throes of a demanding exam season, over 200 children bunked school to protest against government inaction towards acknowledging the seriousness of the climate change crisis. Manavi Kapur, Quartz India, "Global movement Extinction Rebellion is spawning India’s future climate change warriors," 24 July 2019

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.

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First Known Use of inaction

1707, in the meaning defined above

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Statistics for inaction

Last Updated

19 Sep 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for inaction

The first known use of inaction was in 1707

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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

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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

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miscellaneous remnants or debris

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