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

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

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

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

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.
  5. Of no importance; useless; worthless; vain; trifling; thoughtless; silly.
  6. (obsolete) Light-headed; foolish.
  • (of no importance): pointless
  • See also Thesaurus:lazy

From Middle English idelen, from Old English īdlian, from Proto-West Germanic *īdalēn. Cognate with German eiteln (to make empty, free up).

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.
  3. (intransitive) Of an engine: to run at a slow speed, or out of gear; to tick over.
  4. (transitive) To cause (an engine) to idle(3)
  • idler
  • (sense 3) idling speed

From Middle English idel, ydel, from Old English īdel (idleness), from the adjective (see above).

idle (plural idles)

  1. The state of idling, of being idle.
  2. (mechanical engineering) The lowest selectable thrust or power setting of an engine.
  3. (gaming) An idle animation.
  4. (gaming) An idle game.
    Synonyms: idle game, incremental game
  • flight idle
  • ground idle
  • idle on Wikipedia.Wikipedia
  • “idle”, in The Century Dictionary [], New York, N.Y.: The Century Co., 1911, →OCLC.
  • “idle”, in Webster’s Revised Unabridged Dictionary, Springfield, Mass.: G. & C. Merriam, 1913, →OCLC.
  • Diel, Lide, deli, diel, eild, lied
  • IPA(key): /ˈidle/ [ˈið̞.le]
  • Rhymes: -idle
  • Syllabification: id‧le


  1. second-person plural imperative of ir combined with le

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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.