: an object of extreme devotion
a movie idol
also : ideal sense 2
: a representation or symbol of an object of worship
broadly : a false god
: a likeness of something
obsolete : pretender, impostor
: a false conception : fallacy
: a form or appearance visible but without substance
an enchanted phantom, a lifeless idol P. B. Shelley

Example Sentences

an actor who is the idol of millions a movie star whose portrayal of a comic book superhero in a blockbuster series has made him the idol of millions
Recent Examples on the Web Matías Villarruel, a soccer fan from Argentina, has one dream: to cheer his idol Lionel Messi in the star’s final men’s World Cup competition, which starts Sunday in Qatar. Dominique Soguel, The Christian Science Monitor, 18 Nov. 2022 Christian Nodal brings his mariacheño swagger to the stage and honors his idol. Isabela Raygoza, Billboard, 17 Nov. 2022 When they were stopped at a red light, Masihzadeh began recounting what had happened, saying that Farhadi was her idol. Rachel Aviv, The New Yorker, 31 Oct. 2022 Even Moses’s underlings have begun to kick at their idol’s feet of clay. Charles Isherwood, WSJ, 27 Oct. 2022 So instead, this profoundly moving movie covers a different kind of success, as a great musician takes pains to make sure her idol receives some proper respect — the only currency that always matters. Noel Murray, Los Angeles Times, 20 Oct. 2022 Cain said the game pitted him against his basketball idol in Durant. Ira Winderman, Sun Sentinel, 6 Oct. 2022 While Gabler was out there NOT losing the Hawaiian sling, the tribe started wondering about his immunity idol. Dalton Ross, EW.com, 29 Sep. 2022 That parasociality is finally shattered when Als is sent to interview his idol during Prince’s 2004 Musicology tour. Sophia Stewart, The Atlantic, 25 Sep. 2022 See More

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'idol.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

Word History


Middle English, from Anglo-French idle, from Late Latin idolum, from Greek eidōlon image, idol; akin to Greek eidos form — more at idyll

First Known Use

13th century, in the meaning defined at sense 2

Time Traveler
The first known use of idol was in the 13th century

Dictionary Entries Near idol

Cite this Entry

“Idol.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/idol. Accessed 30 Nov. 2022.

Kids Definition

: an image worshipped as a god
: a greatly loved and admired person or thing

More from Merriam-Webster on idol

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