Share this entry

inertia Syllabification: in·er·tia
Pronunciation: /iˈnərSHə/

Definition of inertia in English:


1A tendency to do nothing or to remain unchanged: the bureaucratic inertia of government
More example sentences
  • Ignorance, fear, inertia, and stubbornness remain to be overcome.
  • Under current policy there is too much latitude for force structure decisions based on personal whim, the prevailing fashion or as default decisions arising out of bureaucratic compromise or inertia.
  • But whatever the smart individuals inside these organizations might think, bureaucratic inertia is killing those golden-egg geese.
inactivity, inaction, inertness;
unchanged state, stationary condition, stasis
2 Physics A property of matter by which it continues in its existing state of rest or uniform motion in a straight line, unless that state is changed by an external force. See also moment of inertia.
Example sentences
  • A better way to measure the mass of a microscopic sample is to quantify the sample's inertia as it is forced into motion.
  • Unlike Galileo, Newton insisted that the law of inertia applied only to motion in a straight line, not circular motion.
  • How fast and in what order remains to be seen, but the direction is a matter of inertia without friction.
2.1 [with adjective] Resistance to change in some other physical property: the thermal inertia of the oceans will delay the full rise in temperature for a few decades
More example sentences
  • The relatively large mass and thermal inertia of female desert tortoises usually prevents winter activity but facilitates their relaxed homeostasis.
  • Soil for the grass over the common room adds to the thermal inertia of the whole.
  • A heavy body weight is a disincentive for movement and physical activity, creating ‘movement inertia.’


Early 18th century (sense 2): from Latin, from iners, inert- (see inert).



Example sentences
  • The doors close as soon as Jewel is clear, and the inertialess transport quickly jets away from the building, circling around the city center and out over the desert.
  • The mirror surface of the ball doubles as a solar collector, and everything, the radio control, the laser, targeting, gyros, inertialess drive, all run off the battery.
  • A simple inertialess quasi-real-time microwave holographic recording system is described and preliminary results are presented.

Words that rhyme with inertia


Definition of inertia in:

Share this entry


What do you find interesting about this word or phrase?

Comments that don't adhere to our Community Guidelines may be moderated or removed.

Get more from Oxford Dictionaries

Subscribe to remove adverts and access premium resources

Word of the day coiffeur
Pronunciation: kwɑːˈfəː
a hairdresser