English Language & Usage Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for linguists, etymologists, and serious English language enthusiasts. Join them; it only takes a minute:

Sign up
Here's how it works:
  1. Anybody can ask a question
  2. Anybody can answer
  3. The best answers are voted up and rise to the top

I am looking for a word which meaning is the opposite of "usage". The context is the use of devices of any sort. The best I've come up with so far is to look at the situation from the devices perspective and consider "usage periods" and "inactivity periods".

share|improve this question
The term usage is tricky here and is better avoided. Active-Inactive, Up-Down, Busy-Idle and similar pairs would suit the context much better. – Kris Feb 22 '13 at 10:41
up vote 5 down vote accepted

Idle time or idle periods could be what you are looking for. The term is already in use in the computer and other industries to denote time when a machine could be working but isn't.

share|improve this answer
Yes. I stand by mine as correct, but this is correct and also preferable IMO. – Jon Hanna Feb 22 '13 at 10:29
Indeed neglect is probably more correct for the fact that it's a noun and idle is an adjective, although the latter seems better suited as its meaning seems more specific to the context I described. – Max Feb 22 '13 at 12:39

Neglect can fit a lot of cases, but has a negative connotation that may be best avoided.

Inactivity is indeed a good choice. The related "inactive periods" doesn't match noun-for-noun, but it does match noun-phrase for noun-phrase, and reads more naturally IMO.

Rest might also be considered, but it has a positive connotation that might be almost as well avoided as the negative connotations of neglect, especially if you want to reduce redundancy by reducing how often the devices are inactive.

share|improve this answer

Your Answer


By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.