dor·​mant | \ ˈdȯr-mənt How to pronounce dormant (audio) \

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 The department said the hornets are usually dormant in the winter months and are most common from July through October. oregonlive, "Huge, invasive bee-killing hornet turns up in Washington state," 21 Dec. 2019 That’s still a relatively new and wonderful reality for a team that had been dormant and irrelevant for so long. Joseph Goodman |, al, "Like old times: Boos for an Auburn friend at the Mike Slive Invitational," 15 Dec. 2019 Volcano tourism is the exploration and study of volcanic and geothermal landforms, including visits to dormant and extinct volcanic regions, according to an entry in the 2016 edition of the Encyclopedia of Tourism. David Oliver, USA TODAY, "'It's a risk': Questions about volcano tourism safety arise after New Zealand eruption," 14 Dec. 2019 After alternating between being dormant and contained for the game’s opening two quarters, the Huskies (6-5, 3-5) scored on their first drives of the third quarter and fourth quarter, respectively, on a pair of 75-yard drives. Sean Keeler, The Denver Post, "CU Buffs knock off Washington, move to within one win of bowl eligibility," 23 Nov. 2019 Often, the bacteria remain dormant and an individual hosting them presents no symptoms. The Economist, "How to defeat AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis," 10 Oct. 2019 Central to the area’s rebirth is the long-vacant post office that straddles Ida B. Wells Drive, which was dormant and dilapidated for more than two decades. Ryan Ori,, "The Old Post Office welcomes its first tenants next month, launching a new Chicago neighborhood. But what kind of neighborhood will it be?," 26 Sep. 2019 But by the end of July, aided by wet weather, officials reported the fire dormant and not expected to grow again. Tegan Hanlon, Anchorage Daily News, "‘This town is just exhausted’: Cooper Landing wrestles with aftermath of a summer lost to wildfire," 15 Sep. 2019 Certain strains of grass go dormant and hibernate in the winter. Timothy Dahl, Popular Mechanics, "8 Next-Level Lawn Care Tips," 26 July 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

Time Traveler for dormant

Time Traveler

The first known use of dormant was circa 1500

See more words from the same year

Statistics for dormant

Last Updated

8 Feb 2020

Cite this Entry

“Dormant.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 21 Feb. 2020.

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for dormant


How to pronounce dormant (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of dormant

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


dor·​mant | \ ˈdȯr-mənt How to pronounce dormant (audio) \

Kids Definition of dormant

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

Keep scrolling for more

More from Merriam-Webster on dormant

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for dormant

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with dormant

Spanish Central: Translation of dormant

Nglish: Translation of dormant for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of dormant for Arabic Speakers

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).


See Definitions and Examples »

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

More Confusing Words—Quiz

  • cats on impossible timber
  • The magician ______ moved the selected card to the top of the deck.
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

Dictionary Devil

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!