- not working or active; unemployed; doing nothing: idle workers.
- not spent or filled with activity: idle hours.
- not in use or operation; not kept busy: idle machinery.
- habitually doing nothing or avoiding work; lazy.
- of no real worth, importance, or significance: idle talk.
- having no basis or reason; baseless; groundless: idle fears.
- frivolous; vain: idle pleasures.
- meaningless; senseless: idle threats.
- futile; unavailing: idle rage.
- to pass time doing nothing.
- to move, loiter, or saunter aimlessly: to idle along the avenue.
- (of a machine, engine, or mechanism) to operate at a low speed, disengaged from the load.
- to pass (time) doing nothing (often followed by away): to idle away the afternoon.
- to cause (a person) to be idle: The strike idled many workers.
- to cause (a machine, engine, or mechanism) to idle: I waited in the car while idling the engine.
- the state or quality of being idle.
- the state of a machine, engine, or mechanism that is idling: a cold engine that stalls at idle.
Origin of idle
SynonymsSee more synonyms for idle on Thesaurus.com
Examples from the Web for idled
For lack of several hundred mine inspectors, thousands of coal miners could be idled.Government Shuts Down and Private Sector Feels the Pain, Too
October 4, 2013
Since the reactors have been idled, Japan has relied on “old energy”—coal and gas—for its needs.Japan’s Anti-Nuclear Activists Losing Ground Since Fukushima Disaster
March 18, 2013
The origin of the boat is still not known, but several Turkish nationals were on board the vessel, which idled offshore.Syrian Immigrants Flood Greece
Barbie Latza Nadeau
August 26, 2012
An East German patrol boat, with spotlights and heavy machine guns, idled on the far shore of the River Spree.Scaling the Berlin Wall
Michael R. Meyer
October 31, 2009
She turned over slowly, fired twice, idled, then fired again.A Yankee Flier Over Berlin
On the contrary, he always corrected him when he prevaricated, and scolded him when he idled.Follow My leader
Talbot Baines Reed
For a while he idled, and then he had an attack of delirium tremens.The Trembling of a Leaf
William Somerset Maugham
Now, however, he idled, thinking how sloppy the streets would be.Sister Carrie
I thought, before, that you had only idled and trifled away your time; but now I know.Armorel of Lyonesse
- unemployed or unoccupied; inactive
- not operating or being used
- (of money) not being used to earn interest or dividends
- not wanting to work; lazy
- (usually prenominal) frivolous or trivialidle pleasures
- ineffective or powerless; fruitless; vain
- without basis; unfounded
- (when tr, often foll by away) to waste or pass (time) fruitlessly or inactivelyhe idled the hours away
- (intr) to loiter or move aimlessly
- (intr) (of a shaft, engine, etc) to turn without doing useful work
- (intr) (of an engine) to run at low speed with the transmission disengagedAlso (Brit): tick over
- (tr) US and Canadian to cause to be inactive or unemployed
Word Origin and History for idled
Old English idel "empty, void; vain; worthless, useless; not employed," common West Germanic (cf. Old Saxon idal, Old Frisian idel "empty, worthless," Old Dutch idil, Old High German ital, German eitel "vain, useless, mere, pure"), of unknown origin. Idle threats preserves original sense; meaning "lazy" is c.1300.
late 15c., "make vain or worthless," from idle (adj.). Meaning "spend or waste (time)" is from 1650s. Meaning "cause to be idle" is from 1789. Sense of "running slowly and steadily without transmitting power" (as a motor) first recorded 1916. Related: Idled; idling.