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See more synonyms for inactive on Thesaurus.com
  1. not active: an inactive volcano.
  2. sedentary or passive: an inactive life.
  3. sluggish; indolent.
  4. Military. not on active duty.
  5. Chemistry.
    1. inert; unreactive.
    2. noting a compound that has no effect on polarized light.
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Origin of inactive

First recorded in 1715–25; in-3 + active
Related formsin·ac·tive·ly, adverbin·ac·tiv·i·ty, in·ac·tive·ness, noun


See more synonyms for on Thesaurus.com
1. unmoving, immobile, inoperative. 1, 2. Inactive, dormant, inert, sluggish, torpid suggest lack of activity. Inactive indicates absence of action, indisposition to activity, or cessation of activity: an inactive compound, life, file of papers. Dormant suggests the quiescence or inactivity of that which sleeps but may be roused to action: a dormant volcano. Inert suggests the condition of dead matter, with no inherent power of motion or action; it may also mean unable to move, or heavy and hard to move: an inert mass; inert from hunger. Sluggish expresses slowness of natural activity or of that which does not move readily or vigorously: a sluggish stream, brain. Torpid suggests a state of suspended physical powers, a condition particularly of animals that hibernate: Snakes are torpid in cold weather. 3. lazy, idle, slothful.


1–3. lively.
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

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British Dictionary definitions for inactive


  1. idle or inert; not active
  2. sluggish, passive, or indolent
  3. military of or relating to persons or equipment not in active service
  4. chem (of a substance) having little or no reactivity
  5. (of an element, isotope, etc) having little or no radioactivity
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Derived Formsinactively, adverbinactivity or inactiveness, noun
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 inactive


1725, from in- (1) "not, opposite of" + active.

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper