Definition of do-nothing in US English:



  • Idle or lacking ambition.

    • ‘The 30-second message opens with a sea of ‘chattering teeth’ toys, while a voice-over derided the other candidates as do-nothing talkers.’
    • ‘Its new strategy will leave the province stuck squarely in do-nothing mode.’
    • ‘She cuckolded her do-nothing spouse in front of his face and with long, tedious rationalizations with which she forced him to agree.’
    • ‘The do-nothing option is inappropriate for the contractors, and failure to follow the rules would affect the deployment commander.’
    • ‘This is hardly the portrait of a do-nothing presidency.’
    • ‘The do-nothing Senate still hasn't passed the necessary appropriations bills for this fiscal year.’
    • ‘Add enough bulk for genuine insulation, and you stumble around with flipper hands like those do-nothing tourists who get dropped at the South Pole for hero photos.’
    • ‘Also, he was named a senior advisor to his successor - a make-work, do-nothing job that will pay him $1.1 million a year.’
    • ‘The questions he would put to monarchs and their do-nothing aristocrats were quite simple: of what utility are they?’
    • ‘Options reward the bright and dim alike; they enrich do-nothing executives who preside over companies during bubbles and booms, when every stock rises.’
    • ‘Harassing everyone evenly so that you can harass individuals without complaint wastes security resources, and it provides political cover for do-nothing bureaucrats to give the appearance of doing something.’
    • ‘I was tempted to make 2004 another do-nothing year.’
    • ‘The rap against him is that he gets annoyed with do-nothing bureaucrats.’
    • ‘It's about half do-nothing stuff and about half small changes to different grant programs.’
    • ‘And this isn't some little do-nothing product, either.’
    • ‘We know that he's been a do-nothing Senator eaten up with ambition for higher office since day one of his term.’
    • ‘That is why he has been an indifferent, do-nothing leader.’
    • ‘It was considered a real do-nothing kind of job, writing about chicken suppers and maybe a cute profile about an ice-skating nun.’
    • ‘The peace movement needs to advocate a peace plan, demand hearings and debate from Congress, and hold do-nothing politicians accountable.’
    • ‘Staying with only the radio is the perfectly cheap, do-nothing solution, which is always a plus.’


  • A person who is idle or lacks ambition.

    • ‘He was a famous do-nothing during the two years his party controlled Congress.’
    • ‘What would a dashing headmaster want with a worthless do-nothing when he has an academic prodigy like me?’
    • ‘It wouldn't make sense for a do-nothing to come up with the idea.’
    • ‘The assets - too many to list - are being drowned in the hyperbolic ink that is spilled by the naysayers and the do-nothings.’
    • ‘Unknowns continued to salt the slug of professional complacency, sparking bidding wars and pushing the do-nothings off the pages and into desk jobs.’
    • ‘Those miscreant do-nothings who are simply leeches on the rest of us.’
    • ‘His former reluctance to pursue a military solution gave him street cred with the world's do-nothings.’
    • ‘Consider the $900 million lawns category: almost 30% of homeowners are do-nothings!’
    • ‘On my own desktop, I run weather applications, clocks, graphical do-nothings, power monitors, moon, sun and space weather monitors - all these in addition to classic system resource monitors.’
    • ‘So what distinguishes the demonstrators from the do-nothings?’
    • ‘They're passive, immobile herd animals, perfect symbols for Fellini's five protagonists - listless do-nothings who can't find the momentum to make a go at life.’
    • ‘When you're gauging how guilty this pleasure truly makes you feel, consider first the fact that a filmmaker who lived among cinema's most inspiring insurgents opted to remind us of the do-nothings and left the revolution out in the street.’
    idler, loafer, good-for-nothing, wastrel, drone, scrounger, cadger, ne'er-do-well, layabout, slob, lounger, shirker, sluggard, laggard, slugabed, malingerer
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