View synonyms for idle


[ ahyd-l ]


, i·dler, i·dlest.
  1. not working or active; unemployed; doing nothing:

    idle workers.

    Synonyms: sluggish

    Antonyms: industrious, busy

  2. not spent or filled with activity:

    idle hours.

  3. not in use or operation; not kept busy:

    idle machinery.

  4. habitually doing nothing or avoiding work; lazy.
  5. of no real worth, importance, or significance:

    idle talk.

    Synonyms: trifling, trivial, worthless

    Antonyms: worthwhile, important

  6. having no basis or reason; baseless; groundless:

    idle fears.

  7. frivolous; vain:

    idle pleasures.

    Synonyms: wasteful

  8. meaningless; senseless:

    idle threats.

  9. futile; unavailing:

    idle rage.

verb (used without object)

, i·dled, i·dling.
  1. to pass time doing nothing.
  2. to move, loiter, or saunter aimlessly:

    to idle along the avenue.

  3. (of a machine, engine, or mechanism) to operate at a low speed, disengaged from the load.

verb (used with object)

, i·dled, i·dling.
  1. to pass (time) doing nothing (often followed by away ):

    to idle away the afternoon.

    Synonyms: waste

  2. to cause (a person) to be idle:

    The strike idled many workers.

  3. to cause (a machine, engine, or mechanism) to idle:

    I waited in the car while idling the engine.


  1. the state or quality of being idle.
  2. the state of a machine, engine, or mechanism that is idling:

    a cold engine that stalls at idle.


/ ˈaɪdəl /


  1. unemployed or unoccupied; inactive
  2. not operating or being used
  3. (of money) not being used to earn interest or dividends
  4. not wanting to work; lazy
  5. usually prenominal frivolous or trivial

    idle pleasures

  6. ineffective or powerless; fruitless; vain
  7. without basis; unfounded
“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


  1. whentr, often foll by away to waste or pass (time) fruitlessly or inactively

    he idled the hours away

  2. intr to loiter or move aimlessly
  3. intr (of a shaft, engine, etc) to turn without doing useful work
  4. intr (of an engine) to run at low speed with the transmission disengaged Also (Brit)tick over
  5. tr to cause to be inactive or unemployed
“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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Derived Forms

  • ˈidly, adverb
  • ˈidleness, noun
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Other Words From

  • i·dle·ness noun
  • i·dly adverb
  • o·ver·i·dle adjective
  • o·ver·i·dle·ness noun
  • un·i·dle adjective
  • un·i·dling adjective
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Word History and Origins

Origin of idle1

First recorded before 900, and in 1915–20 idle fordef 12; Middle English, Old English īdel (adjective) “empty, trifling, vain, useless”; cognate with German eitel
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Word History and Origins

Origin of idle1

Old English īdel; compare Old High German ītal empty, vain
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Synonym Study

Idle, indolent, lazy, slothful apply to a person who is not active. To be idle is to be inactive or not working at a job. The word is sometimes derogatory, but not always, since one may be relaxing temporarily or may be idle through necessity: pleasantly idle on a vacation; to be idle because one is unemployed or because supplies are lacking. The indolent person is naturally disposed to avoid exertion: indolent and slow in movement; an indolent and contented fisherman. The lazy person is averse to exertion or work, and especially to continued application; the word is usually derogatory: too lazy to earn a living; incurably lazy. Slothful denotes a reprehensible unwillingness to carry one's share of the burden: so slothful as to be a burden on others. See loiter.
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Example Sentences

In fact, it's getting so bad that a number of OEMs, including Ford and General Motors, have had to go as far as idling shifts and even entire factories.

Virginia officials said they are temporarily pausing deactivation of idle E-ZPass accounts amid the coronavirus pandemic.

They have been both overstretched in some departments, and rendered idle in others, and although in some cases they have seen increases in patient volume due to coronavirus outbreaks, they have by and large suffered significant financial losses.

From Quartz

Officials hope that makeshift system will free up ambulances now sitting idle outside hospitals because their patients can’t be admitted.

A rare exception came early in the pandemic in March, when an apparel returns warehouse was idled by order of Kentucky Governor Andy Beshear after an outbreak there.

From Fortune

And in the summer, when the lift is idle, it feeds juice into the local community.

Middle-aged, out-of-shape Putin sat idle and silent as his dreams and hopes for the future were destroyed.

Any upcoming release of a new Apple product guarantees a deafening cacophony of idle speculation from tech sites.

The rest of the police looked on, sitting idle on horses in front of Starbucks.

The idle rich had driven down from Biarritz with their uniformed chauffeurs.

It's an idle question, I know; wise men and musty philosophers say that regrets are foolish.

He worketh under correction, and seeketh to rest: let his hands be idle, and he seeketh liberty.

There was a deep silence throughout the whole bivouac; some were sleeping, and those who watched were in no humour for idle chat.

While the fortress was undermining at home, they were not idle, who were preparing to storm it from abroad.

The lower class were idle and lazy, and willing to serve any sovereign who appealed to them by ostentation.


Related Words




IDKidle character