in·​ac·​tive | \ (ˌ)i-ˈnak-tiv How to pronounce inactive (audio) \

Definition of inactive

: not active: such as
a(1) : sedentary
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 How to pronounce inactive (audio) \ noun

Synonyms & Antonyms for inactive



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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 What's the best way to be inactive so that the channel can flow the freest? Erica Gonzales, Harper's BAZAAR, "SZA Is Fighting for Climate Justice, One Tree at a Time," 17 Feb. 2021 Aviation experts and airline representatives acknowledge that when pilots are inactive for several months, their skills and proficiency deteriorate. Author: Hugo Martín, Anchorage Daily News, "Airline pilots making in-flight errors say they’re ‘rusty’ because of pandemic," 31 Jan. 2021 Ingram, 31, was on the inactive list for four of the Ravens’ last five games, including playoff matchups against Tennessee and Buffalo. Chronicle News Services,, "Falcons hire Terry Fontenot as GM, Sarah Thomas to become first female to officiate in Super Bowl," 19 Jan. 2021 Hoyer, now in his third stint in New England, began the season as Newton’s backup, started one game in which he got benched for Stidham, and has since been relegated to the inactive list each week. Nicole Yang,, "After first losing season in 20 years, big overhaul looming for Patriots," 31 Dec. 2020 Cost: $2,000 for the training and to get on the inactive list., "We Adopted Our Daughter 8 Years After An Unexplained Infertility Diagnosis," 22 Dec. 2020 The Buckeyes didn't say whether any of those on the inactive list tested positive for COVID-19. Michael Marot, ajc, "No. 3 Ohio St. runs past No. 15 Wildcats for Big Ten crown," 19 Dec. 2020 About 90 minutes before kickoff, Tagovailoa was officially out when Miami released its inactive list for the game. Mark Inabinett |, al, "Tua Tagovailoa to miss Dolphins’ game against Jets," 29 Nov. 2020 Joining Banogu on the inactive list Thursday night are Jack Doyle (concussion), quarterback Jacob Eason, wide receiver Dezmon Patmon and cornerback Tremon Smith. Jim Ayello, The Indianapolis Star, "Colts news: DE Ben Banogu inactive for second straight game; Mo Alie-Cox active," 13 Nov. 2020

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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Time Traveler for inactive

Time Traveler

The first known use of inactive was in 1664

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Statistics for inactive

Last Updated

27 Feb 2021

Cite this Entry

“Inactive.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 6 Mar. 2021.

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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 How to pronounce inactive (audio) \

Kids Definition of inactive

: not active or in use an inactive volcano inactive mines


in·​ac·​tive | \ (ˈ)in-ˈak-tiv How to pronounce inactive (audio) \

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 How to pronounce inactive (audio) \ noun, plural inactivities

More from Merriam-Webster on inactive

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for inactive

Nglish: Translation of inactive for Spanish Speakers

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