From Middle English idel, ydel, from Old English īdel, from Proto-Germanic *īdalaz. Cognate with Dutch ijdel (“vain, meaningless”), German Low German iedel (“vain, idle”), German eitel (“vain, conceited”), and possibly Old Norse illr ("bad"; > English ill).
- enPR: īʹd(ə)l, IPA(key): /ˈaɪd(ə)l/
Audio (US) (file)
- Rhymes: -aɪdəl
- Homophones: idol, idyll, idyl (US pronunciation)
- (obsolete) Empty, vacant.
- Not being use appropriately; not occupied; (of time) with no, no important, or not much activity.
- Not engaged in any occupation or employment; unemployed; inactive; doing nothing.
- 1879, Richard Jefferies, The Amateur Poacher, chapter1:
- Molly the dairymaid came a little way from the rickyard, and said she would pluck the pigeon that very night after work. She was always ready to do anything for us boys; and we could never quite make out why they scolded her so for an idle hussy indoors. It seemed so unjust. Looking back, I recollect she had very beautiful brown eyes.
- Averse to work, labor or employment; lazy; slothful.
an idle fellow
1907, Robert William Chambers, chapter VI, in The Younger Set (Project Gutenberg; EBook #14852), New York, N.Y.: A. L. Burt Company, published 1 February 2005 (Project Gutenberg version), OCLC 4241346:
- “I don't mean all of your friends—only a small proportion—which, however, connects your circle with that deadly, idle, brainless bunch—the insolent chatterers at the opera, the gorged dowagers, the worn-out, passionless men, the enervated matrons of the summer capital, […]!”
- Of no importance; useless; worthless; vain; trifling; thoughtless; silly.
an idle story; idle talk; idle rumor
- (obsolete) Light-headed; foolish.
- (Can we find and add a quotation of Ford to this entry?)
- See also Wikisaurus:lazy
- (transitive) To spend in idleness; to waste; to consume.
- (intransitive) To lose or spend time doing nothing, or without being employed in business.
- to idle in an IRC channel
- 1939, Joan Evans, Chateaubriand (page 32)
- He had already heard of the young man's projected journey — evidently the Comte de Combourg had written many letters while his son idled at St. Malo […]
- (intransitive) Of an engine: to run at a slow speed, or out of gear; to tick over.
- idle in The Century Dictionary, The Century Co., New York, 1911
- idle in Webster’s Revised Unabridged Dictionary, G. & C. Merriam, 1913