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idle - definition and synonyms


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adjective     idle pronunciation in British English
Word Forms
  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

      Many men were made idle as the mills closed down.

  2. 2

    Get upstairs and wake up that idle brother of yours.

    You’re just bone idle, the lot 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]
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a description of an economic or political situation based on analysis of information at the present time

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an unregulated form of capitalism that features financial deregulation, privatisation and low tax for high earners

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