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[in-urt, ih-nurt] /ɪnˈɜrt, ɪˈnɜrt/
having no inherent power of action, motion, or resistance (opposed to active):
inert matter.
Chemistry. having little or no ability to react, as nitrogen that occurs uncombined in the atmosphere.
Pharmacology. having no pharmacological action, as the excipient of a pill.
inactive or sluggish by habit or nature.
Origin of inert
1640-50; < Latin inert- (stem of iners) unskillful, equivalent to in- in-3 + -ert-, combining form of art- (stem of ars) skill; see art1
Related forms
inertly, adverb
inertness, noun
noninert, adjective
noninertly, adverb
noninertness, noun
uninert, adjective
uninertly, adverb
1. immobile, unmoving, lifeless, motionless. 4. See inactive. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for inertly
Historical Examples
  • She closed her eyes; her body yielded in his arms and hung there inertly.

    The Woman Gives Owen Johnson
  • This mob appeared, for a time, inertly to watch the proceedings.

    Varney the Vampire Thomas Preskett Prest
  • When, however, the frail figure drooped silently and inertly against the waist strap he seemed to know even in the darkness.

    The Heart of the Desert Honor Willsie Morrow
  • The things of nature are inertly passive under the hand of God.

    The Theistic Conception of the World B. F. (Benjamin Franklin) Cocker
  • Some one must be making a big bonfire, answered Helen inertly, as her eyes followed the direction of Ediths finger.

British Dictionary definitions for inertly


having no inherent ability to move or to resist motion
inactive, lazy, or sluggish
having only a limited ability to react chemically; unreactive
Derived Forms
inertly, adverb
inertness, noun
Word Origin
C17: from Latin iners unskilled, from in-1 + ars skill; see art1
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 inertly



1640s, from French inerte (16c.) or directly from Latin inertem (nominative iners) "unskilled, inactive, helpless, sluggish, worthless," from in- "without" + ars (genitive artis) "skill" (see art (n.)). Originally of matter; specifically of gases from 1885. Of persons or creatures, from 1774.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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inertly in Medicine

inert in·ert (ĭn-ûrt')

  1. Sluggish in action or motion; lethargic.

  2. Not readily reactive with other chemical elements; forming few or no chemical compounds.

  3. Having no pharmacologic or therapeutic action.

The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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inertly in Science
Not chemically reactive.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary
Copyright © 2002. Published by Houghton Mifflin. All rights reserved.
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