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

The first round of Threadrippers had four chips, with two of them active and two inactive, for a total of 16 cores and 32 threads. Peter Bright, Ars Technica, "Second-generation Threadripper goes on sale: $1,799 for 32 cores," 6 Aug. 2018 Those types of players typically don’t spend very much time as a third-string, game-day inactive, especially when they are deemed by most in the know to be ready to start right away. Bob Mcmanaman, azcentral, "History shows Arizona Cardinals rookie QB Josh Rosen will see action 2018," 12 May 2018 The page pointed to posts on, a site with previously unreported ties to the troll farm that went inactive in 2017. NBC News, "Sean Hannity, Black Lives Matter among targets of Russian influence campaign, disclosures show," 10 May 2018 After a month, allow to go inactive and let the plant continue cycling through these states. Sunset, "Top 10 Kid- & Pet-Friendly Plants," 22 Jan. 2018 Plant pathologists and arborists alike tell us that all pruning of oaks should be done between mid-July and Valentine’s Day because that’s when the oak wilt fungus is inactive in our trees. Neil Sperry, star-telegram, "Here’s your gardening to-do list for the second part of the summer," 11 July 2018 Chelsea have been inactive in the transfer market so far this summer, largely due to the uncertainty surrounding the future of manager Antonio Conte and the potential appointment of Napoli's Maurizio Sarri as the club's new boss., "Chelsea Lining Up £25m Move for 20-Year-Old Dinamo Zagreb Defender," 8 July 2018 The researchers began by gathering 30 men and women who were inactive in general and had not tried interval training before. Gretchen Reynolds, New York Times, "Hate High-Intensity Exercise? Try It. You Might Like It.," 30 May 2018 Jennings and Wilson were inactive in the first two games of the series. Ben Steele, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Bucks center John Henson out for Game 3 Friday night against Celtics," 20 Apr. 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

16 Nov 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).


noxious or harmful

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