in·​ert | \ i-ˈnərt How to pronounce inert (audio) \

Definition of inert

1 : lacking the power to move
2 : very slow to move or act : sluggish
3 : deficient in active properties especially : lacking a usual or anticipated chemical or biological action

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Other Words from inert

inert noun
inertly adverb
inertness noun

Choose the Right Synonym for inert

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 inert in a Sentence

an inert and lifeless body How does he propose to stimulate the inert economy and create jobs?

Recent Examples on the Web

Even so, roughly 30 episodes into a series that began as a revelation but has since become a chore, Atwood’s coda underlines how inert the TV show’s structure is compared to that of the book. Time, "The Handmaid's Tale Could Be So Much Better. But First It Has to Leave Its Star Behind," 26 June 2019 Physicists also widely believed that the cosmos’s missing dark matter consists of invisible clouds of heavy, inert particles dubbed WIMPs, and that the laws of nature respect supersymmetry, a tidy mirroring of matter and forces. Quanta Magazine, "The Year in Physics," 21 Dec. 2018 The company claims its fibers stay put through rain, wind, and sweat, which makes sense since keratin is an inert substance, unlike the talc in GLH, which can turn into a gloppy mess when wet. Cheryl Wischhover, Vox, "How spray-on hair does (and doesn’t) work," 17 Dec. 2018 An inert grenade in a piece of luggage caused a brief scare Thursday night at Detroit Metro Airport. Ann Zaniewski, Detroit Free Press, "Grenade causes brief scare at Detroit Metro Airport," 13 June 2019 The state would impose a fine on those who don’t purchase healthcare, a California version of the federal individual mandate that was rendered inert by Congress last year. John Myers,, "California lawmakers will vote on a budget this week. But it’s not the end of the story," 10 June 2019 So just as some observers have feared, warming temperatures could release formerly inert carbon from the soil. Quanta Magazine, "Below Our Feet, a World of Hidden Life," 16 June 2015 Clive Davis, the founder of Arista Records, told the rocker in his early days that his performances were inert. Kyle Smith, National Review, "Bruce Springsteen, Accidental Patriot," 4 June 2019 So how does an inert electric car suddenly experience a lithium-ion battery fire? Alexander Stoklosa, Car and Driver, "Tesla Fires Spur Software Update, but Here's Why You Needn't Panic," 16 May 2019

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

1647, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for inert

Latin inert-, iners unskilled, idle, from in- + art-, ars skill — more at arm

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Dictionary Entries near inert



in error



inert gas


Statistics for inert

Last Updated

6 Jul 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for inert

The first known use of inert was in 1647

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More Definitions for inert



English Language Learners Definition of inert

: unable to move
: moving or acting very slowly
chemistry : not able to affect other chemicals when in contact with them : not chemically reactive


in·​ert | \ i-ˈnərt How to pronounce inert (audio) \

Kids Definition of inert

: unable or slow to move or react inert gas

Other Words from inert

inertness noun


in·​ert | \ in-ˈərt How to pronounce inert (audio) \

Medical Definition of inert

1 : lacking the power to move
2 : deficient in active properties especially : lacking a usual or anticipated chemical or biological action an inert drug

Other Words from inert

inertness noun

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More from Merriam-Webster on inert

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with inert

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for inert

Spanish Central: Translation of inert

Nglish: Translation of inert for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of inert for Arabic Speakers

Comments on inert

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characterized by aphorism

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