synonyms, antonyms, definitions, examples & translations of idle in English

English Online Dictionary. What means idle‎? What does idle mean?



From Middle English idel, ydel, from Old English īdel, from Proto-Germanic *īdalaz. Cognate with Dutch ijdel (vain, meaningless), German Low German iedel (vain, idle), German eitel (vain, conceited), and possibly Old Norse illr ("bad"; > English ill).


  • enPR: īʹd(ə)l, IPA(key): /ˈaɪd(ə)l/
  • Rhymes: -aɪdəl
  • Homophones: idol, idyll, idyl (US pronunciation)


idle (comparative more idle, superlative most idle)

  1. (obsolete) Empty, vacant.
  2. Not being used appropriately; not occupied; (of time) with no, no important, or not much activity.
  3. Not engaged in any occupation or employment; unemployed; inactive; doing nothing in particular.
  4. Averse to work, labor or employment; lazy; slothful.
    • “I don't mean all of your friends—only a small proportion—which, however, connects your circle with that deadly, idle, brainless bunch—the insolent chatterers at the opera, the gorged dowagers, the worn-out, passionless men, the enervated matrons of the summer capital, []!”
  5. Of no importance; useless; worthless; vain; trifling; thoughtless; silly.
  6. (obsolete) Light-headed; foolish.
    (Can we find and add a quotation of Ford to this entry?)


  • (of no importance): pointless
  • See also Thesaurus:lazy

Derived terms

  • bone idle
  • idle hands are the devil's workshop
  • idle pulley
  • idle wheel
  • idly



idle (third-person singular simple present idles, present participle idling, simple past and past participle idled)

  1. (transitive) To spend in idleness; to waste; to consume.
  2. (intransitive) To lose or spend time doing nothing, or without being employed in business.
    to idle in an IRC channel
    • 1939, Joan Evans, Chateaubriand (page 32)
      He had already heard of the young man's projected journey — evidently the Comte de Combourg had written many letters while his son idled at St. Malo []
  3. (intransitive) Of an engine: to run at a slow speed, or out of gear; to tick over.


Derived terms

  • idler


idle (plural idles)

  1. (gaming) An idle animation.
  2. (gaming) An idle game.
    Synonyms: idle game, incremental game


  • idle on Wikipedia.Wikipedia
  • idle in The Century Dictionary, The Century Co., New York, 1911
  • idle in Webster’s Revised Unabridged Dictionary, G. & C. Merriam, 1913.


  • Diel, deli, diel, eild, lied

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This article based on an article on Wiktionary. The list of authors can be seen in the page history there. The original work has been modified. This article is distributed under the terms of this license.