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i·dle (īdl)
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adj. i·dler, i·dlest
1.
a. Not employed or busy: idle carpenters. See Synonyms at inactive.
b. Disinclined to work or be active; lazy: "a man who could seem idle, ignorant, even incompetent, yet was able to understand and to express ... the instincts, good and bad, of the American majority" (Godfrey Hodgson).
c. Not in use or operation: idle hands; idle mills.
d. Sports Not scheduled to play a game: Both teams played today but will be idle tomorrow.
2. Being a period of time in which there is little or no activity: passed idle hours watching TV.
3. Lacking substance, value, or basis: idle speculation; idle threats. See Synonyms at baseless, vain.
v. i·dled, i·dling, i·dles
v.intr.
1. To pass time without being engaged in purposeful activity: "The girls idled all day long, sending their tinkling laughter flowing up and down the street" (Alai).
2. To move slowly or without purpose: "I drove past the workshop ... I idled along the driveway past the pole fence ... to Tyhee Road" (Tom Spanbauer).
3. To run at a slow speed or out of gear. Used of a motor or motor vehicle.
v.tr.
1. To pass (time) without doing anything: idle the afternoon away.
2. To make or cause to be unemployed or inactive: layoffs that idled 1,000 factory workers; a plant that was idled by a strike.
3. To cause (a motor, for example) to idle.
n.
1. A state of idling. Used of a motor vehicle: an engine running quietly at idle.
2. A mechanism for regulating the speed at which an engine runs at rest: set the idle higher to keep the motor from stalling.

[Middle English idel, from Old English īdel.]

idle·ness n.
idler (īdlər) n.
idly adv.

The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2017 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
 

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