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

Keep scrolling for more

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

As many as 10 fissures have opened up since the eruption started late Thursday afternoon, scientists said, adding that one of those vents has gone dormant. Mike Arroyo, Fox News, "Hawaii's volcanic eruption has destroyed at least 26 homes, officials say," 2 Oct. 2018 The virus goes dormant in the nerve cells only to be reactivated years later. Mari A. Schaefer,, "Looking for the new shingles vaccine Shingrix? Not all Philadelphia pharmacies have it," 29 June 2018 From there, the Jackson group went largely dormant until the surviving brothers reunited in 2012, three years after Michael’s death. Brian Mccollum, Detroit Free Press, "Detroit and the Jacksons celebrate mutual affection as group returns for festival," 14 June 2018 Following the pollen collection, Spike went dormant for the most part with the occasional leaf sprouting, Herendeen said. Daniel I. Dorfman,, "After 2015 failure, corpse flower blooms – and stinks – at Chicago Botanic Garden," 26 Apr. 2018 The Future Foundation, formed in 1996, has been largely dormant since 2011 and was dissolved in March 2017 at the board’s final meeting. Susannah Bryan,, "Suspended Hallandale Mayor Joy Cooper violated Sunshine Law 26 times, Inspector General says," 23 Apr. 2018 In the chill of deep space, bacteria somehow shielded from cosmic radiation might survive dormant for millions of years. The Economist, "Colonising the galaxy is hard. Why not send bacteria instead?," 12 Apr. 2018 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

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.

See More

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

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about dormant

Statistics for dormant

Last Updated

15 Nov 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for dormant

The first known use of dormant was circa 1500

See more words from the same year

Keep scrolling for more

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.

Keep scrolling for more

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).


by force of circumstances

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Difficult Vocab Quiz

  • the-education-of-achilles-eugne-delacroix
  • Which is a synonym of discomfit?
True or False

Test your knowledge - and maybe learn something along the way.

Word Winder's CrossWinder

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.


Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!