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From Latin ōtiōsus (idle), from ōtium (ease).



otiose (comparative more otiose, superlative most otiose)

  1. Having no effect.
    • 1929, Richard Hughes, A High Wind in Jamaica:
      The most eminent jurists have not even yet decided on a satisfactory definition of piracy. [] One school holds that it is any felony committed on the High Seas. But that does little except render a separate term otiose. Moreover, it is not accepted by other schools of thought.
  2. Done in a careless or perfunctory manner.
    • 1961, Nicolson, Harold, “Thirteen Colonies”, in The Age Of Reason (non-fiction), Doubleday & Company, Inc., page 203:
      It may seem otiose thus to have re-examined the elements of a distant controversy. I have sought only to indicate that there are several perfectly respectable reasons why British opinion should have been so utterly bewildered between 1793 and 1783. Such an examination, even if it manages not to cause offense, is bound itself to become confused and to reflect the cloudy muddle of the period. It is preferable therefore to elucidate the conflict by describing its changing effects on a single individual.
  3. Reluctant to work or to exert oneself.
  4. Of a person, possessing a bored indolence.
  5. Having no reason for being (raison d’être); having no point, reason, or purpose.
    • 1895, Robert Louis Stevenson, chapter 3, in Vailima Letters:
      On Friday morning, I had to be at my house affairs before seven; and they kept me in Apia till past ten, disputing, and consulting about brick and stone and native and hydraulic lime, and cement and sand, and all sorts of otiose details about the chimney – just what I fled from in my father’s office twenty years ago;
    • 1969, G. R. Elton, The Practice of History:
      Neither the fact that the debates can become otiose, nor their zeal in so often simply echoing the points made in the past, need, however, lead one to suppose that the proper cure is silence.



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  1. vocative masculine singular of ōtiōsus


  • otiose”, in Charlton T. Lewis and Charles Short (1879) A Latin Dictionary, Oxford: Clarendon Press
  • otiose”, in Charlton T. Lewis (1891) An Elementary Latin Dictionary, New York: Harper & Brothers
  • otiose in Gaffiot, Félix (1934) Dictionnaire illustré latin-français, Hachette