adjective, i·dler, i·dlest.
verb (used without object), i·dled, i·dling.
verb (used with object), i·dled, i·dling.
Origin of idle
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.
Examples from the Web for idly
After idly admiring the work for almost a week, Iolas gained the courage to enter his very first gallery.
The street vendor, an older man in a baseball hat, sits by idly as tourists flood past the table.Banksy’s Biggest Trick Yet: Selling His Art on the Street for $60|Isabel Wilkinson|October 14, 2013|DAILY BEAST
He dropped out of school in the ninth grade and has been idly sitting on good intentions about getting a GED ever since.
I begin now to comprehend your disdain of customs which impose chains so idly galling on the liberty of our sex.The Parisians, Complete|Edward Bulwer-Lytton
She went to the vast Regency desk, idly fingering papers, and laid hold of a document.The Pretty Lady |Arnold E. Bennett
He kissed it, and then idly amused himself with turning the rings to and fro on the slender fingers.Behind A Mask, Or A Woman's Power|A. M. Barnard
Glancing over it idly, he caught the name, twice or thrice repeated, of the town where Judge Priest lived.The Escape of Mr. Trimm|Irvin S. Cobb
"Keep it, certainly," said Wildeve, who had idly watched the scene from a distance.Return of the Native|Thomas Hardy
British Dictionary definitions for idly
Word Origin for idle
Word Origin and History for idly (1 of 3)
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.
Word Origin and History for idly (2 of 3)
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.