There are many words in the English language which have long confused the native as well as the foreign speakers and writers. “Idle” and “Idol” are one of those words. And what’s worse is that the two only differ due to the use and the exclusion of only one letter.

Homophones- An Easy Way to Understand

Now, you must know that “idle” and “Idol” are a pair of words which come under the category of homophones. Homophones are those words which usually constitute the same letters as well as have a similar pronunciation. And that is the source of all the confusion.

Differentiating Between Idle and Idol

The two words differ only due to the use of “E” in one word and due to the use of the letter “o” in the other. Apart from that, the use and the functions of both the words are extremely different. Read on to understand the difference.


This word has limited use. The word only expresses the meaning of “useless” or “lazy” in most cases. Another popular way of using the word is to express the meaning of “not active.” In some cases, the word could also be used to express the meaning of “worthless.”


  • “Please turn off the car and make sure it does not sit idle,” my father instructed me.
  • “Why are you sitting here idle? There is much to do, come with me,” she scolded the student.
  • “It is idle to expect any help from my relatives,” I told my mother.


There are two uses of the word “idol.” The two uses are:

  1. “Idol” could be used to describe the figure of a God or a deity.
  2. Additionally, the word “idol” is also used to express the meaning of a person who is greatly loved. And in some cases, even celebrities could be described with the same word.


  • The idols of Gods in India and Sri Lanka are a sight to see.
  • The girl went crazy at the sight of the teen idol coming out of the hotel.
  • “My parents treat my elder brother as an idol!” complained my friend.