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[ahyd-l] /ˈaɪd l/
an image or other material object representing a deity to which religious worship is addressed.
  1. an image of a deity other than God.
  2. the deity itself.
any person or thing regarded with blind admiration, adoration, or devotion:
Madame Curie had been her childhood idol.
a mere image or semblance of something, visible but without substance, as a phantom.
a figment of the mind; fantasy.
a false conception or notion; fallacy.
Origin of idol
1200-50; Middle English < Late Latin īdōlum < Greek eídōlon image, idol, derivative of eîdos shape, form
Can be confused
idle, idol, idyll (see synonym study at idle)
1. See image. 3. favorite, darling, pet. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for idol
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • But you know the old man has become a miser, and makes money his idol.

    Brave and Bold Horatio Alger
  • But Mammon was never the name of an idol or other form of false deity.

  • He at least did not think that the idol had been forsaken because the use of his name was given up.

  • After all, it's a satisfaction to find that one's idol makes a handsome bibelot.

    The Greater Inclination Edith Wharton
  • He had written of his idol before; but it was not till I came that he told it all to me.

    The Gentleman From Indiana Booth Tarkington
British Dictionary definitions for idol


a material object, esp a carved image, that is worshipped as a god
(Christianity, Judaism) any being (other than the one God) to which divine honour is paid
a person who is revered, admired, or highly loved
Word Origin
C13: from Late Latin īdōlum, from Latin: image, from Greek eidōlon, from eidos shape, form
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for idol

mid-13c., "image of a deity as an object of (pagan) worship," from Old French idole "idol, graven image, pagan god," from Late Latin idolum "image (mental or physical), form," used in Church Latin for "false god," from Greek eidolon "appearance, reflection in water or a mirror," later "mental image, apparition, phantom," also "material image, statue," from eidos "form" (see -oid). Figurative sense of "something idolized" is first recorded 1560s (in Middle English the figurative sense was "someone who is false or untrustworthy"). Meaning "a person so adored" is from 1590s.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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