adjective dor·mant \ ˈdȯr-mənt \
|Updated on: 12 Jul 2018

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
3 a : 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

Examples of dormant in a Sentence

  1. The seeds will remain dormant until the spring.

  2. Her emotions have lain dormant for many years.

Recent Examples of dormant from the Web

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.

Origin and Etymology of dormant

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

Synonym Discussion of 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

Other Heraldry Terms

DORMANT Defined for English Language Learners


Definition of dormant for English Language Learners

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

DORMANT Defined for Kids


adjective dor·mant \ ˈdȯr-mənt \

Definition of dormant for Students

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

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