- The definition of idle is doing nothing or not filled with activities or actions.
- An example of idle is being unemployed and doing nothing all day.
- An example of idle is hours spent sitting in a waiting room doing nothing.
- Idle is defined as to spend time doing nothing or to operate a car engine while the car is not moving.
- An example of idle is to stand in front of a store with a group of friends just hanging out.
- An example of idle is for an engine to run while the car sits at the curb.
An idle group of girls.
- having no value, use, or significance; worthless; useless: idle talk
- vain; futile; pointless: an idle wish
- baseless; unfounded: idle rumors
- unemployed; not busy
- inactive; not in use: idle machines
- not filled with activity: idle hours
- not inclined to work; lazy
- designating certain parts of a fuel system that set an engine's idling speed
Origin of idleMiddle English idel ; from Old English empty, akin to German eitel, vain, empty ; from uncertain or unknown; perhaps Indo-European base an unverified form ai-dh, to burn, shine: basic sense, either “only apparent, seeming” or “burned out”
intransitive verbidled, idling
- to move slowly or aimlessly; loaf
- to spend time unprofitably; be unemployed or inactive
- to operate without transmitting power; esp., to operate a motor vehicle's engine while the vehicle is not moving
Origin of idle< idlethe : parallel with OE idlian, to come to nothing, be useless
- to waste; squander: usually with away: to idle away one's youth
- to cause (a motor, etc.) to idle
- to cause to be inactive or unemployed
- a. Not employed or busy: idle carpenters. See Synonyms at inactive.b. Disinclined to work or be active; lazy: “a man who could seem idle, ignorant, even incompetent, yet was able to understand and to express &ellipsis; the instincts, good and bad, of the American majority” (Godfrey Hodgson).c. Not in use or operation: idle hands; idle mills.d. Sports Not scheduled to play a game: Both teams played today but will be idle tomorrow.
- Being a period of time in which there is little or no activity: passed idle hours watching TV.
- Lacking substance, value, or basis: idle speculation; idle threats. See Synonyms at baseless, vain.
verbi·dled, i·dling, i·dles
- To pass time without being engaged in purposeful activity: “The girls idled all day long, sending their tinkling laughter flowing up and down the street” (Alai).
- To move slowly or without purpose: “I drove past the workshop &ellipsis; I idled along the driveway past the pole fence &ellipsis; to Tyhee Road” (Tom Spanbauer).
- To run at a slow speed or out of gear. Used of a motor or motor vehicle.
- To pass (time) without doing anything: idle the afternoon away.
- To make or cause to be unemployed or inactive: layoffs that idled 1,000 factory workers; a plant that was idled by a strike.
- To cause (a motor, for example) to idle.
- A state of idling. Used of a motor vehicle: an engine running quietly at idle.
- A mechanism for regulating the speed at which an engine runs at rest: set the idle higher to keep the motor from stalling.
Origin of idleMiddle English idel, from Old English īdel.
(comparative more idle, superlative most idle)
- Not turned to appropriate use; not occupied.
- idle hours
- My computer hibernates after it has been idle for 30 minutes.
- Not engaged in any occupation or employment; unemployed; inactive; doing nothing.
- idle workmen
- Averse to work, labor or employment; lazy; slothful.
- an idle fellow
- Of no importance; useless; worthless; vain; trifling; thoughtless; silly.
- an idle story; idle talk; idle rumor
(third-person singular simple present idles, present participle idling, simple past and past participle idled)