dor·​mant | \ˈdȯr-mənt \

Definition of dormant 

1 heraldry : represented on a coat of arms in a lying position with the head on the forepaws

2 : marked by a suspension of activity: such as

a : temporarily devoid of external activity a dormant volcano

b : temporarily in abeyance yet capable of being activated seeds will remain dormant until spring reawaken her dormant emotions

3a : asleep, inactive dormant creatures

b : having the faculties suspended : sluggish

c : having biological activity suspended: such as

(1) : being in a state of suspended animation

(2) botany : not actively growing but protected (as by bud scales) from the environment used of plant parts

4 : associated with, carried out, or applied during a period of dormancy dormant grafting

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Choose the Right Synonym for dormant

latent, dormant, quiescent, potential mean not now showing signs of activity or existence. latent applies to a power or quality that has not yet come forth but may emerge and develop. a latent desire for success dormant suggests the inactivity of something (such as a feeling or power) as though sleeping. their passion had lain dormant quiescent suggests a usually temporary cessation of activity. the disease was quiescent potential applies to what does not yet have existence or effect but is likely soon to have. a potential disaster

Examples of dormant in a Sentence

The seeds will remain dormant until the spring. Her emotions have lain dormant for many years.

Recent Examples on the Web

Without these hormones, the cancer cell dies or goes dormant. Renae Reints, Fortune, "New Treatment for Aggressive Prostate Cancer Shows 71% Lower Risk of Spread or Death," 28 June 2018 The lava could eventually be channeled to one powerful vent while others go dormant, as has happened in some previous Hawaii eruptions, Stovall said. Caleb Jones, Jennifer Peltz And Sophia Yan, Houston Chronicle, "Hawaii volcano destroys dozens of homes, forces evacuations," 7 May 2018 Levin cited the case of Dennis Rader, the notorious BTK Killer (Bind, Torture, Kill), who murdered 10 people in Kansas between 1974 and 1991 before going dormant. Marjie Lundstrom And Sam Stanton, sacbee, "Why did the East Area Rapist stop raping and killing? Or did he?," 6 May 2018 The program largely went dormant under President Obama, but has been revived since President Trump was elected. Jeff Gammage,, "Bensalem drops plans to have its police officers partner with ICE, group says," 2 May 2018 Some accounts that exhibited much the same behavior as Kevin_Milner remained live, though dormant, as recently as this week. Issie Lapowsky, WIRED, "Russian Propaganda Remains on Reddit," 9 Mar. 2018 Now, amid the uncertainty of a Wade return to the Miami Heat next season, the South Florida icon is floating the possibility of aligning with a fourth NBA franchise -- one that is dormant, much, seemingly, to Wade's consternation. Ira Winderman,, "Dwyane Wade eyes NBA ownership stake . . . in Seattle?," 25 June 2018 Some mints are dormant in winter, others keep growing. Pam Peirce,, "How Bay Area gardeners can grow their own soup," 1 June 2018 Existing drugs control viral replication, but cannot affect dormant, integrated viral genes. The Economist, "HIV+ volunteers are bequeathing their organs to a new project," 31 May 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'dormant.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of dormant

circa 1500, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for dormant

Middle English, fixed, stationary, from Anglo-French, from present participle of dormir to sleep, from Latin dormire; akin to Sanskrit drāti he sleeps

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Statistics for dormant

Last Updated

1 Nov 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for dormant

The first known use of dormant was circa 1500

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More Definitions for dormant



English Language Learners Definition of dormant

: not doing anything at this time : not active but able to become active


dor·​mant | \ˈdȯr-mənt \

Kids Definition of dormant

: not active for the time being The volcano is dormant.

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Comments on dormant

What made you want to look up dormant? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


something that serves to warn or remind

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