adj. i·dler, i·dlest
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.
v. i·dled, i·dling, i·dles
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.
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.
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.]
idler (īdlər) n.
The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2017 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
The American Heritage Dictionary Blog
Check out our blog, updated regularly, for new words and revised definitions, interesting images from the 5th edition, discussions of usage, and more.
American Heritage Dictionary Products
The American Heritage Dictionary, 5th Edition
The American Heritage Dictionary of Idioms
The American Heritage Roget's Thesaurus
Curious George's Dictionary
The American Heritage Children's Dictionary
The American Heritage Dictionary of Indo-European Roots
The American Heritage Student Grammar Dictionary
The American Heritage Desk Dictionary + Thesaurus
The American Heritage Science Dictionary
The American Heritage Dictionary of Business Terms
The American Heritage Student Dictionary
The American Heritage Essential Student Thesaurus