I have been using Ubuntu operating system for a few years, and recently I had to temporarily switch to my (long unused) Windows on the same laptop.

I wonder which adjective could be used instead to mean "long unused"? Thanks!


As for one-word alternatives to the cumulative adjective phrase “long unused”, “Dusty” can convey the same meaning metaphorically, assuming there are clues from context. The same goes for “rusty”, especially when referring to skills.

“Dilapidated” works best for buildings but can be extended to other things via metaphor and will generally indicate a perceptible state of disrepair. “Decrepit” is similar, but will carry overtones of the infirmities that come with aging for imperfectly self-replicating organisms (such as ourselves).

None of these necessarily conveys an especially long timeframe, and the latter two should be restricted to describing things that have suffered diminished structural integrity or aesthetic quality from disuse.

For the example sentence, I don’t think the substitution of any single word would add clarity.

  • Thanks! I wonder which adjective could be used instead to mean "long unused"? – Tim Dec 4 '13 at 16:59
  • 1
    I agree with "dusty", but your other proposals don't simply mean "unused" but indicate a state of disrepair. Something could be long unused but still be in excellent condition. – Jay Dec 4 '13 at 17:32
  • I believe my caveats made that distinction clear, but I’m happy to edit further. – Tyler James Young Dec 4 '13 at 17:35
  • On re-reading your post, yeah, you did acknowledge that, my comment was probably redundant. – Jay Dec 4 '13 at 17:38
  • I take it simply as an indication that I could have been more explicit with that point. Hopefully my latest edit makes the distinction between the first and second pairs of words more apparent. – Tyler James Young Dec 4 '13 at 17:46

I can't think of a word that clearly expresses the idea. "Long unused" may be the best phrase. "Neglected" perhaps? "Abandoned"? "Idle"? (Though if you're talking about a computer, "idle" has a specific meaning in that context that may create an ambiguity.) "Moribund"? (Though I think that applies that it's almost dead or obsolete and not just unused.) You could use metaphors, like Tyler James Young's suggestion of "dusty", or "lonely".

  • Just saw the word "obsolete" in your post, and thought to myself, well, my obsolete Windows on the same laptop sounds quite right. – Damkerng T. Dec 4 '13 at 17:45
  • What about hibernated Windows PC? Out of many, one meaning of this word is Be in an inactive or dormant state. – Maulik V Dec 5 '13 at 7:48
  • Damkerng: But "obsolete" means that it is out of date and superseded by newer inventions. Something could be "long unused" without being obsolete. I have a spare mattress in my attic that I haven't used in several years, but it's still perfectly good, and I don't think mattress technology has advanced far enough in that time to make it obsolete. – Jay Dec 5 '13 at 14:47
  • 1
    Maulik: "Hibernate" has a specific technical meaning on Windows computers that would make this word possibly misleading. – Jay Dec 5 '13 at 14:49

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

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