le·​thar·​gic lə-ˈthär-jik How to pronounce lethargic (audio)
: of, relating to, or characterized by laziness or lack of energy : feeling or affected by lethargy : sluggish
The patient was weak and lethargic.
: indifferent, apathetic
The legislature was lethargic in considering the bill.
lethargically adverb

Did you know?

In Greek mythology, Lethe was the name of a river in the underworld that was also called "the River of Unmindfulness" or "the River of Forgetfulness." Legend held that when someone died, he or she was given a drink of water from the river Lethe to forget all about his or her past life. Eventually this act of forgetting came to be associated with feelings of sluggishness, inactivity, or indifference. The name of the river and the word lethargic, as well as the related noun lethargy, all derive from lēthē, Greek for "forgetfulness."

Examples of lethargic in a Sentence

You'll need to move your lure as slowly as possible to tempt the lethargic fish into feeding … Lenny Rudow, Boating, December 1997
… became a drifter and for a time an alcoholic and finally lapsed into lethargic self-abasement. Stanley Karnow, New York Times Book Review, 14 Oct. 1984
The audience was cold and lethargic. It is true there were about fifty-seven applauses, but they were not roars of enthusiasm by any means. Lady Bird Johnson 12 Jan. 1966, in A White House Diary1970
The patient is weak and lethargic. a big meal always makes me feel lethargic and sleepy
Recent Examples on the Web But even in those three wins, the team has had to overcome lethargic starts to defeat Penn State, 81-75, in overtime on Dec. 6, Michigan, 64-57, on Jan. 11, and Nebraska, 73-51, on Jan. 27. Edward Lee, Baltimore Sun, 7 Feb. 2024 To that end, every one of the main characters is coping with some kind of emotional stasis, which contributes to the narrative’s lethargic pacing. Kristen Baldwin, EW.com, 23 Jan. 2024 One exception might be sea turtles infected with pathogens, because infected sea turtles are more lethargic and spend more time floating on the ocean surface. Jennifer Ouellette, Ars Technica, 24 Aug. 2023 Vanderbilt’s absence was one reason offered internally for the Lakers’ lethargic performances in early-season games. Dan Woike, Los Angeles Times, 19 Jan. 2024 For instance, the three toed sloth’s digestive system is so lethargic that the animals only need to descend from their trees once a week for their excretory endeavors. Max Bennett, Discover Magazine, 15 Jan. 2024 Pets with salmonella infections may be lethargic and have diarrhea or bloody diarrhea, fever, and vomiting. Meghan Overdeep, Southern Living, 13 Nov. 2023 Pets infected with salmonella may be lethargic and have diarrhea or bloody diarrhea, fever and vomiting. Kate Gibson, CBS News, 9 Nov. 2023 Since Saturday night’s 38-20 win against Charlotte in which the Terps dug themselves into a 14-0 hole and then scored 38 straight points, Locksley had expressed his disappointment with the team’s lethargic start and preached a stronger opening. Edward Lee, Baltimore Sun, 16 Sep. 2023 See More

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

Word History


see lethargy

First Known Use

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of lethargic was in the 14th century


Dictionary Entries Near lethargic

Cite this Entry

“Lethargic.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/lethargic. Accessed 29 Feb. 2024.

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