hyp·​na·​go·​gic | \ˌhip-nə-ˈgä-jik, -ˈgō-\
variants: or less commonly hypnogogic

Definition of hypnagogic 

: of, relating to, or occurring in the period of drowsiness immediately preceding sleep hypnagogic hallucinations

Keep scrolling for more

Did You Know?

The hypnagogic state is that heady lull between wakefulness and sleep when thoughts and images flutter, melt, and transform into wild things, wrote Boston Globe correspondent Cate McQuaid (October 1, 1998). Some scientists have attributed alien-abduction stories to this state, but for most people these "half-dreams" are entirely innocuous. Perhaps the most famous hypnagogic dream is that of the German chemist Friedrich August Kekule von Stradonitz, who was inspired with the concept of the benzene ring by a vision of a snake biting its own tail. You're not dreaming if the Greek root hypn-, meaning "sleep," seems familiar - you've seen it in "hypnotize." The root "-agogic" is from the Greek -agōgos, meaning "inducing," from agein meaning "to lead." We borrowed "hypnagogic" (also spelled "hypnogogic") from French hypnagogique in the late 19th century.

Examples of hypnagogic in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web

What remains the same is his signature hypnagogic melodies and cassette-like lo-fi aura. Efrain Dorado, RedEye Chicago, "5 must-see concerts in Chicago this week: Arcade Fire, Ariel Pink, Hamilton Leithauser," 24 Oct. 2017

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'hypnagogic.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

First Known Use of hypnagogic

1886, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for hypnagogic

French hypnagogique, from Greek hypn- + -agōgos leading, inducing, from agein to lead — more at agent

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about hypnagogic

Share hypnagogic

Listen to Our Podcast about hypnagogic

Statistics for hypnagogic

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for hypnagogic

The first known use of hypnagogic was in 1886

See more words from the same year

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for hypnagogic


variants: also hypnogogic \ ˌhip-​nə-​ˈgäj-​ik , -​ˈgō-​jik \

Medical Definition of hypnagogic 

: of, relating to, or occurring in the period of drowsiness immediately preceding sleep hypnagogic hallucinations — compare hypnopompic

Other Words from hypnagogic

hypnagogically \ -​ji-​k(ə-​)lē \ adverb

More from Merriam-Webster on hypnagogic

Nglish: Translation of hypnagogic for Spanish Speakers

Comments on hypnagogic

What made you want to look up hypnagogic? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


by force of circumstances

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Difficult Vocab Quiz

  • the-education-of-achilles-eugne-delacroix
  • Which is a synonym of discomfit?
Name That Thing

Test your visual vocabulary with our 10-question challenge!


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!