dor·​mant ˈdȯr-mənt How to pronounce dormant (audio)
heraldry : represented on a coat of arms in a lying position with the head on the forepaws
: marked by a suspension of activity: such as
: temporarily devoid of external activity
a dormant volcano
: temporarily in abeyance yet capable of being activated
seeds will remain dormant until spring
reawaken her dormant emotions
: asleep, inactive
dormant creatures
: having the faculties suspended : sluggish
: having biological activity suspended: such as
: being in a state of suspended animation
botany : not actively growing but protected (as by bud scales) from the environment
used of plant parts
: associated with, carried out, or applied during a period of dormancy
dormant grafting
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 Around 2011, the Sisters signed a 10-year licensing agreement with Knitting Factory Records in New York, and their four albums were reissued, though promotion went dormant after the Sisters had a falling out with the label, says Welles-Nyström. Mankaprr Conteh, Rolling Stone, 7 July 2024 After floating dormant in New York and, later, Norfolk, the ship arrived in Baltimore in August 1988. Dillon Mullan, Baltimore Sun, 5 July 2024 There was an ominous quality to the stained corduroy couch, a sense that something poisonous lay dormant in its cushions. Hazlitt, 5 June 2024 This could be your time to talk about any friction that may be dormant in your relationship. Harriette Cole, The Mercury News, 24 May 2024 See all Example Sentences for dormant 

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'dormant.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


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

First Known Use

circa 1500, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of dormant was circa 1500

Dictionary Entries Near dormant

Cite this Entry

“Dormant.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 14 Jul. 2024.

Kids Definition


dor·​mant ˈdȯr-mənt How to pronounce dormant (audio)
: not active but capable of becoming active
a dormant volcano
: sleeping or appearing to be asleep : sluggish
: having growth or other biological activity much reduced or suspended
a dormant bud
: of, relating to, or used during a period of no or greatly reduced activity or growth
a dormant spray for fruit trees

More from Merriam-Webster on dormant

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