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 For all these reasons, pruning in the dormant season is best not only for shrubs but also for trees such as oaks and maples. Beth Botts, Chicago Tribune, 17 Sep. 2023 Brizé expertly gauges subtle shifts throughout the film, tapping the power of nature in the windswept beach, the choppy sea, the drab gray skies or the rocky shoreline as dormant feelings between the former lovers resurface like sad, sensual ghosts of their former selves. David Rooney, The Hollywood Reporter, 12 Sep. 2023 The judicial crisis has reawakened dormant tensions between the residents of working-class towns — who typically lean right — and those of wealthy suburbs and kibbutzim, who tend to vote for centrist and left-wing parties. Patrick Kingsley Moises Saman, New York Times, 11 Sep. 2023 Actually, an even bigger challenge awaits this weekend in Corvallis, Ore., where the Beavers are poised for their third straight winning season after a dormant decade. Kirk Kenney, San Diego Union-Tribune, 11 Sep. 2023 This causes hair to remain in the dormant phase longer than usual, leading to more hairs falling out at one time than expected. Christin Perry, Parents, 10 Sep. 2023 But nothing else matches the extremophiles, animals like the dinosaur shrimp and fairy shrimp, that can lay dormant for decades. Caroline Delbert, Popular Mechanics, 7 Sep. 2023 Same guys who roared back time and again, scoring in droves, sending six players to the All-Star Game, and raising the dormant hopes of a long-suffering fan base. Kevin Sherrington, Dallas News, 7 Sep. 2023 There’s something intuitive about the idea that a beloved food, something as simple as a hot dog, could have a similar animating effect—perhaps activating dormant neurons, or providing a tether of continuity to one’s past. Peggy Orenstein, The New Yorker, 5 Sep. 2023 See More

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 27 Sep. 2023.

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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