Synonym Chooser

How is the word inactive different from other adjectives like it?

Some common synonyms of inactive are idle, inert, passive, and supine. While all these words 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

When could idle be used to replace inactive?

In some situations, the words idle and inactive are roughly equivalent. However, idle applies to persons that are not busy or occupied or to their powers or their implements.

workers were idle in the fields

When can inert be used instead of inactive?

The words inert and inactive can be used in similar contexts, but 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

When is it sensible to use passive instead of inactive?

The words passive and inactive are synonyms, but do differ in nuance. Specifically, 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

When is supine a more appropriate choice than inactive?

The meanings of supine and inactive largely overlap; however, supine applies only to persons and commonly implies abjectness or indolence.

a supine willingness to play the fool

Thesaurus Entries Near inactive

Cite this Entry

“Inactive.” Thesaurus, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 29 May. 2024.

More from Merriam-Webster on inactive

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!