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[in-ak-tiv] /ɪnˈæk tɪv/
not active:
an inactive volcano.
sedentary or passive:
an inactive life.
sluggish; indolent.
Military. not on active duty.
  1. inert; unreactive.
  2. noting a compound that has no effect on polarized light.
Origin of inactive
1715-25; in-3 + active
Related forms
inactively, adverb
inactivity, inactiveness, noun
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. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for inactivity
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • The silence and the inactivity startled her into a sense of them, as no noise or movement, curses or blows, could have done.

    Folle-Farine Ouida
  • The days that followed were days of weary waiting and inactivity.

    The Long Labrador Trail Dillon Wallace
  • The inactivity of Bibulus had only served to increase his power.

    History of Julius Caesar Vol. 1 of 2 Napoleon III, Emperor of the French, 1808-1873.
  • Then, after a few moments, inactivity would bring him panic.

    The Forest Stewart Edward White
  • Affairs at Marshfield are in practically the same state of inactivity as at Scituate.

    A Report upon the Mollusk Fisheries of Massachusetts Commissioners on Fisheries and Game
British Dictionary definitions for inactivity


idle or inert; not active
sluggish, passive, or indolent
(military) of or relating to persons or equipment not in active service
(chem) (of a substance) having little or no reactivity
(of an element, isotope, etc) having little or no radioactivity
Derived Forms
inactively, adverb
inactivity, 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
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Word Origin and History for inactivity

1640s, from in- (1) "not, opposite of" + activity. Phrase masterly inactivity attested by 1791.



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

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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