Adam Clarke's Commentary on the Bible

Verse 36 (Matthew 12:36)

Every idle word - Ρημα αργον , a word that does nothing, that neither ministers grace nor instruction to them who hear it. The word αργον corresponds to the Hebrew שוא shave , which signifies not only vain or empty, but also wicked and injurious, such as a false testimony against a neighbor, compare Deuteronomy 5:11 , Deuteronomy 5:20 . Add to this, that Symmachus translates פגול piggul , polluted, Leviticus 19:7 , by the very Greek word in the text. It was to explain this ambiguous meaning of the word, that ten MSS. have changed αργον into πονηρον , evil. Our Lord must be understood here as condemning all false and injurious words: the scope of the place necessarily requires this meaning.

- Adam Clarke's Commentary on the Bible