Idle I"dle, a. [Compar. {Idler}; superl. {Idlest}.] [OE. idel, AS. [=i]del vain, empty, useless; akin to OS. [=i]dal, D. ijdel, OHG. [=i]tal vain, empty, mere, G. eitel, Dan. & Sw. idel mere, pure, and prob. to Gr. ? clear, pure, ? to burn. Cf. {Ether}.] 1. Of no account; useless; vain; trifling; unprofitable; thoughtless; silly; barren. ``Deserts idle.'' --Shak. [1913 Webster]

Every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment. --Matt. xii. 36. [1913 Webster]

Down their idle weapons dropped. --Milton. [1913 Webster]

This idle story became important. --Macaulay. [1913 Webster]

2. Not called into active service; not turned to appropriate use; unemployed; as, idle hours. [1913 Webster]

The idle spear and shield were high uphing. --Milton. [1913 Webster]

3. Not employed; unoccupied with business; inactive; doing nothing; as, idle workmen. [1913 Webster]

Why stand ye here all the day idle? --Matt. xx. 6. [1913 Webster]

4. Given rest and ease; averse to labor or employment; lazy; slothful; as, an idle fellow. [1913 Webster]

5. Light-headed; foolish. [Obs.] --Ford. [1913 Webster]

{Idle pulley} (Mach.), a pulley that rests upon a belt to tighten it; a pulley that only guides a belt and is not used to transmit power.

{Idle wheel} (Mach.), a gear wheel placed between two others, to transfer motion from one to the other without changing the direction of revolution.

{In idle}, in vain. [Obs.] ``God saith, thou shalt not take the name of thy Lord God in idle.'' --Chaucer.

Syn: Unoccupied; unemployed; vacant; inactive; indolent; sluggish; slothful; useless; ineffectual; futile; frivolous; vain; trifling; unprofitable; unimportant.

Usage: {Idle}, {Indolent}, {Lazy}. A propensity to inaction is expressed by each of these words; they differ in the cause and degree of this characteristic. Indolent denotes an habitual love to ease, a settled dislike of movement or effort; idle is opposed to {busy}, and denotes a dislike of continuous exertion. Lazy is a stronger and more contemptuous term than indolent. [1913 Webster]

The Collaborative International Dictionary of English. 2000.


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