A person or a thing that is idle is not moving or is not busy.

  • When the manager of the store noticed that several of his employees were idle, he gave them work to do.
  • The plant had too many idle employees during the recession, so they were laid off.
  • Farmers let their fields go idle in order to restore nutrients to the soil.
  • That empty store has been idle for years.
  • Idle inventory at a store is marked down until it finally sells. (marked down = priced is reduced)
  • Boredom is the result of an idle mind.
  • Idle hands are the devil’s workshop. (This is a kind of an expression. It means that people who are not busy may be attracted to bad behavior.)

idle field

The fields lay idle through the winter.

When the word "idle" is used as a verb, it’s often in reference to a car that has its engine running, but it’s not moving.

  • In the winter, Dan lets his car idle for about five minutes before he drives it.
  • Cars that idle for too long are ticketed by the police because they pollute the air.
  • A thief stole a car that was idling outside of a gas station. It was easy to steal because the keys were in the ignition.

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December 9, 2014