- 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 idling
The former politicians offer a variety of reasons for idling their campaign riches instead of giving them away.Ex-Politicians Keeping $100 Million in Private Slush Funds
Dave Levinthal, Center for Public Integrity
May 22, 2014
I walked behind the idling swing and gave it a gentle puff of a push.When An Adopted Child Won’t Attach
May 2, 2014
On Sept. 5, Saad Al-Hilli, 50, his wife, Iqbal, 47, and her mother, Suhaila Al-Allaf, 74, were found dead in their idling BMW.Plot Thickens in Grisly French Alps Murders
Barbie Latza Nadeau
October 29, 2012
The car, with United Kingdom license plates, was idling and locked from the inside.Young Girl May Hold Key to Grisly Alps Murders
Barbie Latza Nadeau, Tracy McNicoll
September 12, 2012
A group of masked assassins on motorcycles pulls up to an idling car.Who's Killing Iran's Scientists?
November 30, 2010
It won't do to have him idling about this way all day long.'Wilfrid Cumbermede
There were no induction-surges from even pulsing, idling engines.Pariah Planet
Well, my question was answered; this was the difference my working or idling made to her.The Rise of Roscoe Paine
Joseph C. Lincoln
The slight altercation drew the attention of Asad's officers who were idling there.The Sea-Hawk
You never see a Unionist idling the day away at street-corners.Ireland as It Is
Robert John Buckley (AKA R.J.B.)
- 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 idling
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.