Is there a noun for people who have already completed their work and have free time? They are about to help others in other activities. I thought of idle people/idlers but that word seems to suggest the person it refers to deliberately avoids work.

  • I'm struggling to find a single word (I'll keep thinking:) but people like that can be described as "at their leisure". Mar 12, 2014 at 11:34
  • Perhaps standby? Mar 12, 2014 at 11:42
  • @LucianSava nope. Standby is a reserved quota or something that is always ready. You can just use them whenever needed. A TV on a standby mode!
    – Maulik V
    Mar 12, 2014 at 11:43
  • 1
    @LucianSava They don't have free time! They are given the job of being in standby mode. The troops are on standby mode (means they are ordered to be alert) and the troops are sitting idle - are free from work!
    – Maulik V
    Mar 12, 2014 at 11:52
  • 1
    Now, I’ve got your meaning. Mar 12, 2014 at 11:54

2 Answers 2


Actually, I think good-old "free" is the best choice, as in:

having no obligations (as to work) or commitments;

not taken up with commitments or obligations;

not obstructed, restricted, or impeded;

but especially:

not being used or occupied.

I'm not sure what you mean by "They are about to help others in other activities", but I presume you mean that, in a work situation, they have finished their task but are still at work (and expected to be working). In this case, you would not call this "free time", as they are not completely at their leisure. "free time" is usually reserved for non-restriction, such as outside of work, or during work when there is absolutely no work to do and no one to help.

Referring to the person as "free" is still appropriate, mostly in the sense of the last definition: they are "not being used or occupied". It is common to ask someone in the workplace "Are you free?" meaning are you not busy so that you can help/do something?

"idle" would suggest that the person is not doing anything useful. Assuming they are about to help others, they are not really idle, but they are free to help others.

"available" is also perfectly appropriate; "are you available?" is in fact a more formal way to ask "Are you free?"

  • 1
    In this context, I think "free" and "available" are both excellent choices.
    – TecBrat
    Mar 12, 2014 at 16:12
  • In a work context, I think "available" would be the most common term.
    – Jay
    Mar 12, 2014 at 16:25
  • @Jay I think it is just more formal. "free" could well be more common in a less formal workplace.
    – nxx
    Mar 12, 2014 at 16:47

I think idle fits. It has several meanings and two of them may fit in this context. What confuses you is the noun idler. But if you use the adjective idle with the word person, it may convey the message.

Idle (adj) - not in action or at work; not in active use

I work with an IT company and often use this phrase with my managers.

What about that php programmer? ~ Yeah, he's sitting free/idle. Yesterday only he completed his project - If you say the sentence in this way, it'd mean a person is sitting free and is not an idler.

  • I couldn't find anything better. As a result +1 Mar 12, 2014 at 13:01

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