Definitions

from The Century Dictionary.

  • Of machinery, doing no direct work; merely changing the direction of motion: as, an idle gear; also, running merely to carry transmission-elements: as, an idle pulley (which see).
  • To spend or waste time in inaction or without employment.
  • To spend in idleness; waste: generally followed by away: as, to idle away time.
  • Empty; vacant; not occupied: as, idle hours.
  • Not engaged in any occupation or employment; unemployed; inactive; doing nothing.
  • In a state of disuse; remaining unused.
  • Useless; ineffectual; vain; bootless; unavailing; futile: as, idle rage.
  • Of no importance; trivial; irrelevant; flippant; pointless; unprofitable: as, an idle story.
  • Acting idly or unconcernedly; careless; indifferent.
  • Slothful; given to rest and ease; averse to labor; lazy: as, an idle fellow.
  • Wandering in mind; light-headed: an occasional use in old plays.
  • noun Idleness; indolence.
  • noun An indolent person.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English.

  • transitive verb To spend in idleness; to waste; to consume; -- often followed by away.
  • intransitive verb To lose or spend time in inaction, or without being employed in business.
  • adjective Of no account; useless; vain; trifling; unprofitable; thoughtless; silly; barren.
  • adjective Not called into active service; not turned to appropriate use; unemployed.
  • adjective Not employed; unoccupied with business; inactive; doing nothing.
  • adjective Given rest and ease; averse to labor or employment; lazy; slothful.
  • adjective obsolete Light-headed; foolish.
  • adjective (Mach.) a pulley that rests upon a belt to tighten it; a pulley that only guides a belt and is not used to transmit power.
  • adjective (Mach.) a gear wheel placed between two others, to transfer motion from one to the other without changing the direction of revolution.
  • adjective [Obs.] in vain.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License.

  • adjective obsolete Empty, vacant.
  • adjective Not turned to appropriate use; not occupied.
  • adjective Not engaged in any occupation or employment; unemployed; inactive; doing nothing.
  • adjective Averse to work, labor or employment; lazy; slothful.
  • adjective Of no importance; useless; worthless; vain; trifling; thoughtless; silly.
  • verb transitive To spend in idleness; to waste; to consume.
  • verb intransitive To lose or spend time doing nothing, or without being employed in business.
  • verb intransitive Of an engine: to run at a slow speed, or out of gear; to tick over.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • adjective lacking a sense of restraint or responsibility
  • adjective not in action or at work
  • adjective not having a job
  • adjective not yielding a return
  • verb be idle; exist in a changeless situation
  • verb run disconnected or idle
  • adjective without a basis in reason or fact
  • adjective not in active use
  • noun the state of an engine or other mechanism that is idling
  • adjective silly or trivial

Etymologies

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

Old English īdel, from West Germanic *īdla-. Cognate with Dutch ijdel ("vain"), German eitel ("bare, worthless").

Examples

  • He is free to believe in his own beliefs which, according to Tusar, do not include the Vedic myths or what he calls the idle intellectual approximations of the Avatar.

    Archive 2009-08-01

  • He is free to believe in his own beliefs which, according to Tusar, do not include the Vedic myths or what he calls the idle intellectual approximations of the Avatar.

    Let's not collaborate with the past that seeks to endure

  • The marquis privately reproved his daughters, for what he termed the idle fancies of a weak mind; and desired them no more to disturb the peace of the castle with the subject of their late fears.

    A Sicilian Romance

  • His wife often admonished him of the danger of tampering with the deadly vice of intemperance; but he only laughed at what he termed her idle fears.

    The Path of Duty, and Other Stories

  • His wife often admonished him of the danger of tampering with the deadly vice of intemperance, but he only laughed at what he termed her idle fears.

    Stories and Sketches

  • 'Why, my uncle told me he would not have me getting into what he calls idle company.

    The Young Step-Mother

  • He is vexed at what he calls my idle ways, and waste of time: as if I need plod on, like a city clerk, six days a week and no holidays!

    Elster's Folly

  • The marquis privately reproved his daughters, for what he termed the idle fancies of a weak mind; and desired them no more to disturb the peace of the castle with the subject of their late fears.

    A Sicilian Romance

  • That said, I also find that Mexicans (and also Central Americans) are very readily sociable and willing (even eager) to engage in idle conversation while sitting around on park benches or whatnot.

    coming home

  • That said, I also find that Mexicans (and also Central Americans) are very readily sociable and willing (even eager) to engage in idle conversation while sitting around on park benches or whatnot.

    coming home

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