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idle - definition and synonyms


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adjective idle pronunciation in American English /ˈaɪd(ə)l/
Word Forms
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  1. 1
    machines or factories that are idle are not being used

    The extra power stations are idle when demand is lower.

    stand/lie/sit idle:

    Valuable machinery is left to lie idle for long periods.

    1. a.
      workers who are idle have no work to do

      Many men were made idle as the mills closed down.

  2. 2

    Go upstairs and wake up that idle brother of yours.

    bone idle (=very lazy):

    You’re just bone idle, all of you.

    1. a.
      [often in negatives] not doing anything, when there are things that you should do

      Don’t worry. I have not been idle while you were away.

      This country will not remain idle if its friends are attacked.

  3. 3
    [only before noun] without a good reason or real purpose

    It was only from idle curiosity that she opened the book.

  4. 4
    not really intended or not likely to have any result
    idle threat:

    It didn’t sound like an idle threat to me (=it was a real threat).

derived word


noun [uncountable]
Synonyms and related words

sea lion

in an online conversation, repeatedly asking a person questions which suggest that you are interested in what they are talking about, but are actually intended to annoy them

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an electric skateboard

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