Definition of idle adjective from the Oxford Advanced Learner's Dictionary



    BrE BrE//ˈaɪdl//
    ; NAmE NAmE//ˈaɪdl//
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  1. 1(of people) not working hard synonym lazy an idle student
  2. 2(of machines, factories, etc.) not in use to lie/stand/remain idle
  3. 3(of people) without work synonym unemployed Over ten per cent of the workforce is now idle.
  4. 4[usually before noun] with no particular purpose or effect; useless idle chatter/curiosity It was just an idle threat (= not serious). It is idle to pretend that their marriage is a success.
  5. 5[usually before noun] (of time) not spent doing work or something particular In idle moments, he carved wooden figures.
  6. Word OriginOld English īdel ‘empty, useless’, of West Germanic origin; related to Dutch ijdel ‘vain, frivolous, useless’ and German eitel ‘bare, worthless’.Extra examples Half their machines are lying idle. He did not let the factory become idle. He never stayed idle for long. She never lifts a finger to help. She’s bone idle. The land was left idle for years. The pumps are standing idle.Idioms
    the devil makes work for idle hands
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    (saying) people who do not have enough to do often start to do wrong She blamed the crimes on the local jobless teenagers. ‘The devil makes work for idle hands,’ she would say.
See the Oxford Advanced American Dictionary entry: idle