from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • adj. Unable to move or act.
  • adj. Sluggish in action or motion; lethargic. See Synonyms at inactive.
  • adj. Chemistry Not readily reactive with other elements; forming few or no chemical compounds.
  • adj. Having no pharmacologic or therapeutic action.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • adj. Unable to move or act; inanimate.
  • adj. Sluggish or lethargic.
  • adj. In chemistry, not readily reacting with other elements or compounds.
  • adj. Having no therapeutic action.
  • n. A substance that does not react chemically.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • adj. Destitute of the power of moving itself, or of active resistance to motion.
  • adj. Indisposed to move or act; very slow to act; sluggish; dull; inactive; indolent; lifeless.
  • adj. Not having or manifesting active properties; not affecting other substances when brought in contact with them; powerless for an expected or desired effect.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • Having no inherent power of action, motion, or resistance; without inherent force; inanimate; lifeless: applied to matter in its intrinsic character: as, an inert mass of clay; an inert corpse.
  • Indisposed or unable to move or act; inactive; sluggish: as, an inert drug.

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

  • adj. slow and apathetic
  • adj. unable to move or resist motion
  • adj. having only a limited ability to react chemically; chemically inactive


from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

Latin iners, inert- : in-, not; see in-1 + ars, skill; see ar- in Indo-European roots.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

From French inerte, from Latin iners ("inactive, inert").


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  • And what we know as inert matter, this is only the result of death in individuals, it is the dead bodies of individuals decomposed and resmelted between the hammer and anvil, fire and sand of the sun and the moon.

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  • Yet Shield limps out of the gate, inert from the first frame and devoid of suspense.

  • Potential intelligence, like potential, can remain inert forever.

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  • If you took away just one proton, you would have flourine, a gas which, far from being inert, is highly reactive and dangerous.

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  • As a chemical kineticist and photochemist, I knew that such a molecule could not remain inert in the atmosphere forever, if only because solar photochemistry at high altitudes would break it down.

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  • A reaction induced on the laboratory bench may, like yeast in inert dough, leaven the whole of mankind, lightening and lifting it to heights undreamed of by its ancestors.

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  • After a long time, Secotan, who had lain inert where he had been thrown into the boat, got to his knees and took up the second paddle.

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  • a certain form of exertion and action, -- I shall grant, of course, that nothing whatever that exists is in that sense inert; but I shall affirm that you use the word inert in quite a different sense from the usual one.

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  • If I have what seems like a terrific idea for a story and no idea how to end it, I know that it’s a binary explosive: the idea I have will remain inert until it meets up with some other idea that directs it towards a specific end.

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  • A nerd is never inert.

    September 28, 2008