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90s Slang You Should Know


[in-urt, ih-nurt] /ɪnˈɜrt, ɪˈnɜrt/
having no inherent power of action, motion, or resistance (opposed to active):
inert matter.
Chemistry. having little or no ability to react, as nitrogen that occurs uncombined in the atmosphere.
Pharmacology. having no pharmacological action, as the excipient of a pill.
inactive or sluggish by habit or nature.
Origin of inert
1640-50; < Latin inert- (stem of iners) unskillful, equivalent to in- in-3 + -ert-, combining form of art- (stem of ars) skill; see art1
Related forms
inertly, adverb
inertness, noun
noninert, adjective
noninertly, adverb
noninertness, noun
uninert, adjective
uninertly, adverb
1. immobile, unmoving, lifeless, motionless. 4. See inactive. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2017.
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Examples from the Web for inert
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • But Johnny's nap seemed to have had the effect of transforming him into an inert jelly-like mass.

    Cressy Bret Harte
  • He turned the inert man on his back—the head hung loosely on the side.

  • She became stiff and inert as she sat in her place with her eyes held dully on the road.

  • The weather was dry and the roads dusty; the water insipid and inert.

    Zoonomia, Vol. II Erasmus Darwin
  • Buddy shook his head savagely, and glared at the unconscious form lying prone and inert on its back.

    The Red Debt Everett MacDonald
British Dictionary definitions for inert


having no inherent ability to move or to resist motion
inactive, lazy, or sluggish
having only a limited ability to react chemically; unreactive
Derived Forms
inertly, adverb
inertness, noun
Word Origin
C17: from Latin iners unskilled, from in-1 + ars skill; see art1
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 inert

1640s, from French inerte (16c.) or directly from Latin inertem (nominative iners) "unskilled, inactive, helpless, sluggish, worthless," from in- "without" + ars (genitive artis) "skill" (see art (n.)). Originally of matter; specifically of gases from 1885. Of persons or creatures, from 1774.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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inert in Medicine

inert in·ert (ĭn-ûrt')

  1. Sluggish in action or motion; lethargic.

  2. Not readily reactive with other chemical elements; forming few or no chemical compounds.

  3. Having no pharmacologic or therapeutic action.

The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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inert in Science
Not chemically reactive.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary
Copyright © 2002. Published by Houghton Mifflin. All rights reserved.
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