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Middle English. a. Old French. id(e)le, and idole, ad. late L. dl-um (also dl-um in Prudentius c400, Sedulius c470), image, form, spectre, apparition, in eccl. use ‘idol’, a. Gr. image, phantom, idea, fancy, likeness, in LXX ‘idol’, f. form, shape. The early OF. idele, idle (11th c.), represent the Latin idolum, the accentuation following that of the Greek. The current Fr. idole was adapted in 13th c. from L. idolum.

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b. Applied polemically to images or figures of divine beings and, more generally, to any material object of worship in a Christian church.
c. A representation of a deity under some monstrous and non-natural form. Obs.
a. A thing.
b. A person so adored.
  • 3. An image, effigy, or figure of a person or thing; esp. a statue. Obs.
b. A counterpart, likeness, imitation; = IMAGE n. 4, 4c. Obs.
c. Aspect, appearance, likeness; = IMAGE n. 3.
  • 4. An inert inactive person (who has the form, without the proper activity or energy, of a man). = F. idole, but in English naturally associated with idle = IDLER. Obs.
  • 5. A visible but unsubstantial appearance, an image caused by reflexion as in a mirror, an incorporeal phantom.
  • 6. A mental fiction; a phantasy or fancy.
b. Logic. A false mental image or conception; a false or misleading notion; a fallacy
  • 7. A fictitious personation; a counterfeit, sham; a pretender. (By Spenser used of a magic counterfeit.)

See also