the quality, state, or condition of being lazy, inactive, or idle: His lack of interest in the larger world and his consummate idleness were the causes of their dreadful divorce.

Origin of idleness

before 1000; idle + -ness Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for idleness

Contemporary Examples of idleness

  • Indeed, idleness, for Russell, is a state one reaches by escaping the encompassing world.

    The Daily Beast logo
    The Professor's Reading List

    Stephen L. Carter

    March 3, 2009

Historical Examples of idleness

  • But she did not allow herself to fall into the idleness of barren speculation.

    The Secret Agent

    Joseph Conrad

  • This idleness seemed, to me, to form the summit of human happiness.

    Ned Myers

    James Fenimore Cooper

  • There were long, long days of intrenching, skirmishing and idleness.

    The Rock of Chickamauga

    Joseph A. Altsheler

  • Put aside frivolity and idleness, and apply yourself in earnest.

    The Channings

    Mrs. Henry Wood

  • All other goodness is but too often an idleness or powerlessness of will.


    Francois Duc De La Rochefoucauld

Word Origin and History for idleness

Old English idelnes "frivolity, vanity, emptiness; vain existence;" see idle + -ness. Old English expressed the idea we attach to in vain by in idelnisse. Spenser, Scott, and others use idlesse to mean the same thing in a positive, pleasant sense.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper