[ ahyd-ler ]
/ ˈaɪd lər /


a person who passes time in a lazy or unproductive way.
Machinery. an idle gear, wheel, or pulley.
Railroads. an empty freight car placed under the projecting end of a long object carried by the next car, so that the latter can be connected with another part of the train.
Nautical. day man(def 2).

Nearby words

  1. idle gear,
  2. idle pulley,
  3. idle time,
  4. idle wheel,
  5. idleness,
  6. idler shaft,
  7. idlesse,
  8. idlewild,
  9. idly,
  10. idn

Origin of idler

First recorded in 1525–35; idle + -er1

Origin of idle

before 900; 1915–20 for def 12; Middle English, Old English īdel (adj.) empty, trifling, vain, useless; cognate with German eitel

1. sluggish. 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. 5. worthless, trivial, trifling. 7. wasteful. 11. See loiter. 13. waste.

Related forms
Can be confusedidle idol idyll (see synonym study at the current entry) Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for idler

British Dictionary definitions for idler


/ (ˈaɪdlə) /


a person who idles
another name for idle pulley, idle wheel
nautical a ship's crew member, such as a carpenter, sailmaker, etc, whose duties do not include standing regular watches


/ (ˈaɪdəl) /



Derived Formsidleness, nounidly, adverb

Word Origin for idle

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

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

Word Origin and History for idler
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper