idler

[ ahyd-ler ]
/ ˈaɪd lər /

noun

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).

Origin of idler

First recorded in 1525–35; idle + -er1

Definition for idler (2 of 2)

Origin of idle

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

Related forms

Can be confused

idle idol idyll (see synonym study at the current entry)

Synonym study

1. 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. 11. See loiter.

Word story

The English adjective idle comes from Old English īdel, originally meaning “empty” and also “useless, worthless.” The sense (used of people) “unemployed, out of work” dates from the 10th century. The rather harsher meaning “avoiding work, lazy, indolent” dates from the 14th century.
One of the senses of the verb idle, “to spend one’s time doing nothing,” dates from the 17th century and is first recorded in Samuel Pepys’ Diary.
The mechanical sense, used of a motor or engine disengaged from its load and operating at a low speed, dates from the 20th century.
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for idler

British Dictionary definitions for idler (1 of 2)

idler

/ (ˈaɪdlə) /

noun

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

British Dictionary definitions for idler (2 of 2)

idle

/ (ˈaɪdəl) /

adjective


verb

Derived Forms

idleness, 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