Cambridge Dictionaries online Cambridge Dictionaries online

The most popular online dictionary and thesaurus for learners of English

English definition of “idle”

See all translations

idle

adjective  /ˈɑɪ·dəl/ us  
not working, not active, or doing nothing: idle factories The machines are standing idle because there are no spare parts. Idle also means not useful or not based on fact: idle speculation
idleness
noun [U]  /ˈɑɪ·dəl·nəs/ us  
idly
adverb  /ˈɑɪd·li, -əl·i/ us  
I will not stand idly by while my business is being destroyed.

idle

verb [I]  /ˈɑɪd·əl/ us  
If an engine idles, it is operating but not doing any work: Let the engine idle for a minute before you put the car in gear.
(Definition of idle from the Cambridge Academic Content Dictionary © Cambridge University Press)
What is the pronunciation of idle?
Add Cambridge dictionaries to your browser to your website

“idle” in American English

Definitions of “idle” in other dictionaries

Word of the Day

exercise

physical activity that you do to make your body strong and healthy

Word of the Day

Byronic, Orwellian and Darwinian: adjectives from names.

by Liz Walter,
April 15, 2015
Becoming an adjective is a strange kind of memorial, but it is often a sign of a person having had real influence on the world. Science is full of examples, from Hippocrates, the Greek medic born around 460 BC, who gave his name to the Hippocratic Oath still used by doctors today,

Read More 

bio-inspiration noun

April 13, 2015
the adoption of patterns and structures found in nature for the purposes of engineering, manufacturing, science, etc. The MIT researchers actually aren’t the only robotics team to turn to cheetahs for bio-inspiration.

Read More