bru·​ma·​tion brü-ˈmā-shən How to pronounce brumation (audio)
: a state or condition of sluggishness, inactivity, or torpor exhibited by reptiles (such as snakes or lizards) during winter or extended periods of low temperature
This subterranean torpor is not a true hibernation … but a cold-blooded version of slowing down called brumation.Keith Winsten, Florida Today (Brevard County), 22 Nov. 2008

Word History


Latin brūma "winter solstice, midwinter" + (hibern)ation

Note: Term introduced by the American zoologist Wilbur W. Mayhew (born 1920) in "Hibernation in the Horned Lizard Phrynosoma m'calli," Comparative Biochemistry and Physiology, vol. 16, no. 1 (September, 1965), pp. 116: " … it seems advisable to have one term to designate winter dormancy in heterotherms and another for such [in] ectotherms. Hibernation has been used to denote this condition in heterotherms particularly, so it seems best to retain this term for that group of vertebrates. Therefore, I propose the terms brumation (from bruma, L. winter) to indicate winter dormancy in ectothermic vertebrates that demonstrate physiological changes which are independent of body temperature."

First Known Use

1965, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of brumation was in 1965

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Dictionary Entries Near brumation

Cite this Entry

“Brumation.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 24 Jul. 2024.

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