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Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English
an empty/idle threat (=one that is not sincere)
▪ She was not a woman to make idle threats.
an empty/idle/vain boast (=a false statement that something is good or possible)
▪ ‘Making knowledge work’ is the university’s phrase, and it is no idle boast not a boast, but true.
an engine idles/ticks over (=runs slowly while the vehicle, machine etc is not moving)
▪ The taxi waited at the kerb, its engine idling noisily.
bone idle
▪ He’s just bone idle.
idle chatter
▪ gossip and idle chatter
idle curiosity (=wanting to know something for no particular reason)
▪ Out of idle curiosity, I looked out of the window.
idle gossip (=gossip not based on facts)
▪ She had no time for idle gossip.
stand empty/idle (=not being used)
▪ scores of derelict houses standing empty
▪ I’m not too thrilled with the way things stand the state that the situation is in at the moment.
▪ The evidence, as it stands as it is now, cannot be conclusive.
wild/idle speculation (=unlikely to be true)
▪ Such fears are wild speculation.
▪ And so it acquired its contemporary, pejorative connotation of idle chatter.
▪ Believe me, this is not idle chatter.
▪ As a family the Hendrys didn't hold with interrupting the serious business of eating with idle chatter.
▪ Jess shivered, looking down at the upturned faces that stared at her with idle curiosity.
▪ It was only from idle curiosity that she went into Nannie's room.
▪ It's not just idle curiosity.
▪ And he asked me a lot of very pertinent questions which seemed to me more than idle curiosity.
▪ As we leave, I glance around to see if anyone shows more than idle curiosity.
▪ Perhaps it was nothing more than idle curiosity.
▪ It should be remembered that it is not idle curiosity that prompts them.
▪ She had no time for idle gossip as she had to do all the work herself.
▪ She's a great one for idle gossip though.
▪ Satan, who finds work for idle hands to do, also fills idle minds with fruitless speculation.
▪ The devil makes work for idle hands. 30.
▪ But he had no time for idle speculation.
▪ Exactly when we might end our voyage was largely a matter of idle speculation.
▪ Forgotten, or decided it had been idle talk, a vow impossible to realise.
▪ It was no place for idle talk then: there was too much action for gossip.
▪ It is important to remember that logical consequences are never to be used as an idle threat.
▪ This was no idle threat from Rhodes, whose sole focus is winning.
▪ She was not a woman to make idle threats.
▪ It was an idle threat on Lavinia's part to hire a companion at all.
▪ She wished she could convince herself that what he'd said had merely been an idle threat.
▪ I knew it was just idle threats, but a lot wouldn't have - they'd have been distraught.
the devil makes/finds work for idle hands
idle gossip
▪ Almost half the skilled workers in this country are now idle.
▪ Hundreds of workers sat idle on the factory floor waiting for the assembly line to start again.
▪ Most of the factory stood idle during the strike.
▪ Painting is a favorite hobby of the idle rich.
▪ That husband of hers is bone idle. No wonder the house is such a mess.
▪ The factory has been idle since May.
▪ The new machines may sit idle for months until they have been paid for.
▪ Wake up that idle young brother of yours and tell him it's time for school!
▪ Why is millions of pounds worth of state-of-the-art equipment lying idle?
▪ As Tallis ran towards him she thought, with idle horror, that he looked as if he was praying.
▪ Doctors are not idle men, Miss Thorne, and you are a fit woman.
▪ Exactly when we might end our voyage was largely a matter of idle speculation.
▪ Scientology is a cereal-box religion, and reading Ron is an idle diversion that quickly becomes annoying.
▪ She had no time for idle gossip as she had to do all the work herself.
▪ They closed a few plants and decided to use the idle machinery to make plastic chips for cigarette filters.
▪ For very many black parents, sport is considered to be idling your time away.
▪ The sergeant followed him in and found him smoking and put him on a discipline charge - idling his time.
▪ The men idled their time away on street corners or outside the pub, cadging a drink or a smoke.
▪ If I was talking to you as my pal, I'd get done for idling my time.
▪ That leaves Mr Hamed and his four workers idle much of the time, but they are fortunate compared to others.
▪ You'd be reported - three charges: failing to work your beat, idling your time, and gossiping.
▪ GM announced it would idle four assembly plants.
▪ My car starts easily, but it sounds rough when it idles.
▪ A skiff idling up beside a Sea and Shore Department cutter.
▪ At the kerb the taxi's diesel engine idled noisily as a passenger's face peered uncertainly through the window.
▪ Cars and pickups and vans idle around him.
▪ Frick idled his way along the corridor, looking in through various windows.
▪ Lily idled on the window seat.
▪ Ryan Klesko sat Wednesday, his smoldering bat idled by a sore right wrist.
▪ The clutch engaged, the engine idled in a terrible calm.
The Collaborative International Dictionary

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.''

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

    Down their idle weapons dropped.

    This idle story became important.

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

    The idle spear and shield were high uphing.

  3. Not employed; unoccupied with business; inactive; doing nothing; as, idle workmen.

    Why stand ye here all the day idle?
    --Matt. xx. 6.

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

  5. Light-headed; foolish. [Obs.]

    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.''

    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.


Idle \I"dle\, v. i. [imp. & p. p. Idled; p. pr. & vb. n. Idling.] To lose or spend time in inaction, or without being employed in business.


Idle \I"dle\, v. t. To spend in idleness; to waste; to consume; -- often followed by away; as, to idle away an hour a day.

Douglas Harper's Etymology Dictionary

Old English idel "empty, void; vain; worthless, useless; not employed," common West Germanic (cognates: Old Saxon idal, Old Frisian idel "empty, worthless," Old Dutch idil, Old High German ital, German eitel "vain, useless, mere, pure"), of unknown origin. Idle threats preserves original sense; meaning "lazy" is c.1300.


late 15c., "make vain or worthless," from idle (adj.). Meaning "spend or waste (time)" is from 1650s. Meaning "cause to be idle" is from 1789. Sense of "running slowly and steadily without transmitting power" (as a motor) first recorded 1916. Related: Idled; idling.

  1. 1 (lb en obsolete) empty, vacant. 2 Not turned to appropriate use; not occupy. 3 Not engaged in any occupation or employment; unemployed; inactive; doing nothing. 4 averse to work, labor or employment; lazy; slothful. 5 Of no importance; useless; worthless; vain; trifling; thoughtless; silly. 6 (lb en obsolete) Light-headed; foolish. v

  2. 1 (context transitive English) To spend in idleness; to waste; to consume. 2 (context intransitive English) To lose or spend time doing nothing, or without being employed in business. 3 (context intransitive English) Of an engine: to run at a slow speed, or out of gear; to tick over.

  1. v. run disconnected or idle; "the engine is idling" [syn: tick over] [ant: run]

  2. be idle; exist in a changeless situation; "The old man sat and stagnated on his porch"; "He slugged in bed all morning" [syn: laze, slug, stagnate] [ant: work]

  1. adj. not in action or at work; "an idle laborer"; "idle drifters"; "the idle rich"; "an idle mind" [ant: busy]

  2. without a basis in reason or fact; "baseless gossip"; "the allegations proved groundless"; "idle fears"; "unfounded suspicions"; "unwarranted jealousy" [syn: baseless, groundless, unfounded, unwarranted]

  3. not in active use; "the machinery sat idle during the strike"; "idle hands" [syn: unused]

  4. silly or trivial; "idle pleasure"; "light banter"; "light idle chatter" [syn: light]

  5. lacking a sense of restraint or responsibility; "idle talk"; "a loose tongue" [syn: loose]

  6. not yielding a return; "dead capital"; "idle funds" [syn: dead]

  7. not having a job; "idle carpenters"; "jobless transients"; "many people in the area were out of work" [syn: jobless, out of work]


Idle (idling) is a term which generally refers to a lack of motion and/or energy.

Idle (disambiguation)

Idle generally refers to a lack of motion or energy.

Idle may also refer to:

Idle (engine)

Idling refers to running a vehicle's engine when the vehicle is not in motion. This commonly occurs when drivers are stopped at a red light, waiting while parked outside a business or residence, or otherwise stationary with the engine running. When idling, the engine runs without any loads except the engine accessories.

IDLE (Python)

IDLE (Integrated DeveLopment Environment or Integrated Development and Learning Environment) is an integrated development environment for Python, which has been bundled with the default implementation of the language since 1.5.2b1. It is packaged as an optional part of the Python packaging with many Linux distributions. It is completely written in Python and the Tkinter GUI toolkit ( wrapper functions for Tcl/ Tk).

IDLE is intended to be a simple IDE and suitable for beginners, especially in an educational environment. To that end, it is cross-platform, and avoids feature clutter.

According to the included README, its main features are:

  • Multi-window text editor with syntax highlighting, autocompletion, smart indent and other.
  • Python shell with syntax highlighting.
  • Integrated debugger with stepping, persistent breakpoints, and call stack visibility.

IDLE has been criticized for various usability issues, including losing focus, lack of copying to clipboard feature, lack of line numbering options, and general user interface design; it has been called a "disposable" IDE, because users frequently move on to a more advanced IDE as they gain experience.

Author Guido van Rossum says IDLE stands for "Integrated DeveLopment Environment", and since van Rossum named the language Python partly to honor British comedy group Monty Python, the name IDLE was probably also chosen partly to honor Eric Idle, one of Monty Python's founding members.

Idle (CPU)

A computer processor is described as idle when it is not being used by any program.

Every program or task that runs on a computer system occupies a certain amount of processing time on the CPU. If the CPU has completed all tasks it is idle.

Modern processors use idle time to save power. Common methods are reducing the clock speed along with the CPU voltage and sending parts of the processor into a sleep state. On processors that have a halt instruction that stops the CPU until an interrupt occurs, such as x86's HLT instruction, it may save significant amounts of power and heat if the idle task consists of a loop which repeatedly executes HLT instructions.

Most operating systems will display an idle task, which is a special task loaded by the OS scheduler only when there is nothing for the computer to do. The idle task can be hard-coded into the scheduler, or it can be implemented as a separate task with the lowest possible priority. An advantage of the latter approach is that programs monitoring the system status can see the idle task along with all other tasks; an example is Windows NT's System Idle Process.

Some programs are designed to make use of CPU idle time, meaning that they run at a low priority so as not to impact programs that run at normal priority. This allows non-crucial background programs to only run when it would not affect the performance of other applications. Programs like this may cause the CPU to be at 100% utilization all the time which causes the CPU to consume more power, since most modern CPUs can enter power-save modes when they are completely idle.

Usage examples of "idle".

The fireball also blew the aft stack apart, and with it the number-two boiler, which caused a steam explosion from the idling high-pressure steam drum.

Anne walked slowly, idling through wooded glades and along avenues of ancient ahuehuete trees, massive giants that must have stood when Montezuma of the Aztecs was king.

Too exhausted and miserable to attempt idle conversation, Alec pressed into his corner without reply.

For some time the captain idled about the garden, keeping as far away from the arbour as possible, and doing his best to suppress a decayed but lively mariner named Captain Sellers, who lived two doors off.

Evangeline-fixe, since she keeps trying to distract me with speculations on idle playing among the auberge clientele, the political implications of Exile, and other anthropological amusements.

Now has Bertrand made his plea and complaint to the emperor in the hearing of all, but they consider him an idle babbler because he says that he has seen the empress stark naked.

Shape-ups were held in the predawn down by the Vineland courthouse, shadowy brown buses idling in the dark, work and wages posted silently in the windows some mornings Zoyd had gone down, climbed on, ridden out with other newcomers, all cherry to the labor market up here, former artists or spiritual pilgrims now becoming choker setters, waiters and waitresses, baggers and checkout clerks, tree workers, truckdrivers, and framers, or taking temporary swamping jobs like this, all in the service of others, the ones who did the building, selling, buying and speculating.

The evening thoroughfares of Pelek Baw were crowded as always, but beings of all species hastily stepped aside for the idling gunship cruising through the city at street level.

Meanwhile we exhausted ourselves in efforts to get at the heart of the mystery, and after a couple of years had gone by I could see that Vivian begall to sicken a little of the adventure, and one night he told me with some emotion that he feared both our lives were being passed away in idle and hopeless endeavour.

But the life-cry of that love has long since hissed away into no more than this idle and bitchy faggotry.

Three nicely buffed executive wives without husbands, down from the large stone houses in the hills to the west, idled over glasses of chardonnay in the nonsmoking section.

Stuart Buffin undoubtedly witnessed was an Initiative Test, It is something that the Army has lately thought up to give employment to otherwise idle warriors.

The virusteel deckplating hummed with the distant throb of idling Bussard drives.

Cugel descended to the pens where a dozen worms idled at the surface of the water, or moved slowly to the thrust of their caudal flukes.

Yama and Telmon had most of the major verses of the Puranas by heart, and were guided by Zakiel to read extensively in chrestomathies and incunabulae, but while Telmon dutifully followed the program Zakiel set out, Yama preferred to idle time away dreaming over bestiaries, prosopographies and mapsmost especially maps.