heb·​e·​tude ˈhe-bə-ˌtüd How to pronounce hebetude (audio)
hebetudinous adjective

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Hebetude usually suggests mental dullness, often marked by laziness or torpor. As such, it was a good word for one Queenslander correspondent, who wrote in a letter to the editor of the Weekend Australian of "an epidemic of hebetude among young people who … are placing too great a reliance on electronic devices to do their thinking and remembering." Hebetude comes from Late Latin hebetudo, which means pretty much the same thing as our word. It is also closely related to the Latin word for "dull," hebes, which has extended meanings such as "obtuse," "doltish," and "stupid." Other hebe- words in English include hebetudinous ("marked by hebetude") and hebetate ("to make dull").

Examples of hebetude in a Sentence

faced with a class forever enveloped in a miasma of apathy and intellectual hebetude, the professor had little hope of kindling an interest in medieval European history
Recent Examples on the Web The leaden weight of an irremediable idleness descended upon General Feraud, who having no resources within himself sank into a state of awe-inspiring hebetude. Ruth Walker, The Christian Science Monitor, 7 Sep. 2017

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

Word History


Late Latin hebetudo, from hebēre to be dull; akin to Latin hebes dull

First Known Use

circa 1621, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of hebetude was circa 1621


Dictionary Entries Near hebetude

Cite this Entry

“Hebetude.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/hebetude. Accessed 20 Jul. 2024.

Medical Definition


heb·​e·​tude ˈheb-ə-ˌt(y)üd How to pronounce hebetude (audio)
: the absence of mental alertness and affect (as in schizophrenia)
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