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idle

[ahyd-l] /ˈaɪd l/
adjective, idler, idlest.
1.
not working or active; unemployed; doing nothing:
idle workers.
2.
not spent or filled with activity:
idle hours.
3.
not in use or operation; not kept busy:
idle machinery.
4.
habitually doing nothing or avoiding work; lazy.
5.
of no real worth, importance, or significance:
idle talk.
6.
having no basis or reason; baseless; groundless:
idle fears.
7.
frivolous; vain:
idle pleasures.
8.
meaningless; senseless:
idle threats.
9.
futile; unavailing:
idle rage.
verb (used without object), idled, idling.
10.
to pass time doing nothing.
11.
to move, loiter, or saunter aimlessly:
to idle along the avenue.
12.
(of a machine, engine, or mechanism) to operate at a low speed, disengaged from the load.
verb (used with object), idled, idling.
13.
to pass (time) doing nothing (often followed by away):
to idle away the afternoon.
14.
to cause (a person) to be idle:
The strike idled many workers.
15.
to cause (a machine, engine, or mechanism) to idle:
I waited in the car while idling the engine.
noun
16.
the state or quality of being idle.
17.
the state of a machine, engine, or mechanism that is idling:
a cold engine that stalls at idle.
Origin
900
before 900; 1915-20 for def 12; Middle English, Old English īdel (adj.) empty, trifling, vain, useless; cognate with German eitel
Related forms
idleness, noun
idly, adverb
overidle, adjective
overidleness, noun
overidly, adverb
unidle, adjective
unidling, adjective
unidly, adverb
Can be confused
idle, idol, idyll (see synonym study at the current entry)
Synonyms
1. sluggish. Idle, indolent, lazy, slothful apply to a person who is not active. To be idle is to be inactive or not working at a job. The word is sometimes derogatory, but not always, since one may be relaxing temporarily or may be idle through necessity: pleasantly idle on a vacation; to be idle because one is unemployed or because supplies are lacking. The indolent person is naturally disposed to avoid exertion: indolent and slow in movement; an indolent and contented fisherman. The lazy person is averse to exertion or work, and especially to continued application; the word is usually derogatory: too lazy to earn a living; incurably lazy. Slothful denotes a reprehensible unwillingness to carry one's share of the burden: so slothful as to be a burden on others. 5. worthless, trivial, trifling. 7. wasteful. 11. See loiter. 13. waste.
Antonyms
1. busy, industrious. 5. important, worthwhile.
Dictionary.com Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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Examples for idleness
  • No idleness, no laziness, no procrastination: never put off till to-morrow what you can do to-day.
  • First, it tried to accelerate the processing of asylum claims so people are not condemned to idleness for months or even years.
  • But it is only the idleness and helplessness of the trapped.
  • Unemployment grants are cut because their cost is plain, while the mental-health cost of idleness is vague.
  • Risky investing automatically provides an even higher payout relative to the cost of idleness.
  • It was pitiful enough to find so much idleness, but it was more pitiful to observe that it was likely to continue indefinitely.
  • idleness has been considered a virtue by many philosophers.
  • Rigid labour laws push people out of formal employment, but not necessarily into complete idleness.
  • Given the slowdown in the commercial-aviation business, the idleness of some sections of the huge aircraft factory is no surprise.
  • Her school gave them study days at home, after lectures on trust and idleness.
British Dictionary definitions for idleness

idle

/ˈaɪdəl/
adjective
1.
unemployed or unoccupied; inactive
2.
not operating or being used
3.
(of money) not being used to earn interest or dividends
4.
not wanting to work; lazy
5.
(usually prenominal) frivolous or trivial idle pleasures
6.
ineffective or powerless; fruitless; vain
7.
without basis; unfounded
verb
8.
when tr, often foll by away. to waste or pass (time) fruitlessly or inactively he idled the hours away
9.
(intransitive) to loiter or move aimlessly
10.
(intransitive) (of a shaft, engine, etc) to turn without doing useful work
11.
(intransitive) (of an engine) to run at low speed with the transmission disengaged Also (Brit) tick over
12.
(transitive) (US & Canadian) to cause to be inactive or unemployed
Derived Forms
idleness, noun
idly, adverb
Word Origin
Old English īdel; compare Old High German ītal empty, vain
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
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Word Origin and History for idleness
n.

Old English idelnes "frivolity, vanity, emptiness; vain existence;" see idle + -ness. Old English expressed the idea we attach to in vain by in idelnisse. Spenser, Scott, and others use idlesse to mean the same thing in a positive, pleasant sense.

idle

adj.

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.

v.

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.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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9
11
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