in·ac·tive | \(ˌ)i-ˈnak-tiv \

Definition of inactive 

: not active: such as

a(1) : sedentary

(2) : indolent, sluggish

b(1) : being out of use

(2) : relating to or being members of the armed forces who are not performing or available for military duties

(3) of a disease : quiescent

c(1) : chemically inert

(2) : optically neutral in polarized light

d : biologically inert especially because of the loss of some quality (such as infectivity or antigenicity)

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Other Words from inactive

inactively adverb
inactivity \(ˌ)i-ˌnak-ˈti-və-tē \ noun

Synonyms & Antonyms for inactive


dull, inert, lethargic, quiescent, sleepy, sluggish, torpid



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Choose the Right Synonym for inactive

inactive, idle, inert, passive, supine mean not engaged in work or activity. inactive applies to anyone or anything not in action or in operation or at work. on inactive status as an astronaut inactive accounts idle applies to persons that are not busy or occupied or to their powers or their implements. workers were idle in the fields inert as applied to things implies powerlessness to move or to affect other things; as applied to persons it suggests an inherent or habitual indisposition to activity. inert ingredients in drugs an inert citizenry passive implies immobility or lack of normally expected response to an external force or influence and often suggests deliberate submissiveness or self-control. passive resistance supine applies only to persons and commonly implies abjectness or indolence. a supine willingness to play the fool

Examples of inactive in a Sentence

Inactive people suffer higher rates of heart disease. it's easiest to catch snakes early in the morning, while they're still cold and inactive

Recent Examples on the Web

However, a process that flags inactive voters for future removal is resuming. Julie Carr Smyth, The Seattle Times, "Ohio elections chief makes changes to keep voters on rolls," 9 July 2018 But over the last several years, the foundation has been inactive and has lost members. New York Times, "In Texas, a Decades-Old Hate Crime, Forgiven but Never Forgotten," 9 July 2018 Given the Supreme Court’s ruling, other states may adopt Ohio’s Supplemental Process as an aggressive way of removing inactive voters from the rolls. Michael C. Herron, Washington Post, "If more states start using Ohio’s system, how many voters will be purged?," 17 June 2018 Dale Ho, the director of the ACLU's Voting Rights Project, said Ohio's move is an ineffective and costly way of identifying inactive voters. Eric Bradner, CNN, "Democrats fret court's Ohio decision could lead more states to purge voter rolls," 11 June 2018 Arizona’s method of culling inactive voters was passed by the Legislature in 1991. Richard Ruelas, azcentral, "Arizona's method of purging voters from rolls more lenient than Ohio," 11 June 2018 Most of the decrease is due to updates to voter rolls to remove inactive voters or those who moved elsewhere. Ivan Moreno,, "Milwaukee mayor raises concerns about deactivated voters," 21 Mar. 2018 In Kentucky, the current budget battle centers on pension benefits for 176,518 active, inactive and retired teachers across the state. Heather Gillers, WSJ, "Why More States Are Tussling With Their Teachers," 18 Mar. 2018 Adults in Oklahoma are much more likely to be physically inactive and smoke than the typical American. Cheyenne Buckingham, USA TODAY, "These are America’s drunkest states," 8 Mar. 2018

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

1664, in the meaning defined above

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Statistics for inactive

Last Updated

5 Oct 2018

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Time Traveler for inactive

The first known use of inactive was in 1664

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More Definitions for inactive



English Language Learners Definition of inactive

: not doing things that require physical movement and energy : not exercising

: not involved in the activities of a group or organization

: no longer being used : not currently being used


in·ac·tive | \i-ˈnak-tiv \

Kids Definition of inactive

: not active or in use an inactive volcano inactive mines


in·ac·tive | \(ˈ)in-ˈak-tiv \

Medical Definition of inactive 

: not active: as

a : marked by deliberate or enforced absence of activity or effort forced by illness to lead an inactive life

b of a disease : not progressing or fulminant : quiescent

c(1) : chemically inert inactive charcoal

(2) : not exhibiting optical activity in polarized light

d : biologically inert especially because of the loss of some quality (as infectivity or antigenicity)

Other Words from inactive

inactivity \(ˌ)in-ˌak-ˈtiv-ət-ē \ noun plural inactivities

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Comments on inactive

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


evasion of direct action or statement

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