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)

Keep scrolling for more

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



Visit the Thesaurus for More 

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

Pocic suffered an ankle injury and was inactive for the next three games. Bob Condotta, The Seattle Times, "Seahawks Q&A: Did Russell Wilson really throw the shoe of a 49er? What happens without D.J. Fluker?," 4 Dec. 2018 Since 2000, the power plant at Chernobyl has been inactive. Avery Thompson, Popular Mechanics, "Chernobyl Has a New Power Plant, But This Time It's Solar," 9 Oct. 2018 Strong safety Jaquiski Tartt was inactive with a shoulder injury and free safety Adrian Colbert hurt his ankle, forcing a bunch of backups to play significant snaps. Fox News, "49ers lose Garoppolo to possible ACL injury," 24 Sep. 2018 Under radio surveillance, the bugs were fairly inactive, scuttling an average of only 12.5 feet at a time. Katherine J. Wu, Smithsonian, "How Tiny Trackers Could Help Humans Avoid Kissing Bugs’ Deadly Smooch," 9 July 2018 The alternate is a bit of surprise — Ray Robson, who has been fairly inactive. Chris Chase,, "Chess notes," 30 June 2018 Cohen has been inactive on the committee for several months, an RNC official said. Fortune, "Trump Lawyer Michael Cohen Is Said to Resign From Republican Committee," 20 June 2018 This leaves Riddick and Abdullah to scrap for the remaining carries (assuming Zach Zenner and Dwayne Washington are either inactive or not on the roster). Jamie Samuelsen, Detroit Free Press, "How will Detroit Lions satisfy stable of running backs?," 23 May 2018 Jordan could also, eventually, lead the Northern Lights Development Corporation — the same setup that existed under the previous housing authority director — though the development corporation is currently inactive, Grisson said. Sarah Freishtat, Aurora Beacon-News, "Aurora Housing Authority names new executive director," 11 May 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.

See More

First Known Use of inactive

1664, in the meaning defined above

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about inactive

Statistics for inactive

Last Updated

14 Dec 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for inactive

The first known use of inactive was in 1664

See more words from the same year

Keep scrolling for more

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

Keep scrolling for more

More from Merriam-Webster on inactive

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with inactive

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for inactive

Spanish Central: Translation of inactive

Nglish: Translation of inactive for Spanish Speakers

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).


to make faulty or ineffective

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Find the Cousins

  • a-large-tree-with-many-branches
  • Which pair shares a common word ancestor?
True or False

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

Dictionary Devil

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!