leth·​ar·​gy ˈle-thər-jē How to pronounce lethargy (audio)
: abnormal drowsiness
: the quality or state of being lazy, sluggish, or indifferent
Choose the Right Synonym for lethargy

lethargy, languor, lassitude, stupor, torpor mean physical or mental inertness.

lethargy implies such drowsiness or aversion to activity as is induced by disease, injury, or drugs.

months of lethargy followed my accident

languor suggests inertia induced by an enervating climate or illness or love.

languor induced by a tropical vacation

lassitude stresses listlessness or indifference resulting from fatigue or poor health.

a depression marked by lassitude

stupor implies a deadening of the mind and senses by shock, narcotics, or intoxicants.

lapsed into an alcoholic stupor

torpor implies a state of suspended animation as of hibernating animals but may suggest merely extreme sluggishness.

a once alert mind now in a torpor

Examples of lethargy in a Sentence

However, on arrival, a mysterious illness had debilitated Darcus Bowden. An illness that no doctor could find any physical symptoms of, but which manifested itself in the most incredible lethargy, creating in Darcus … a lifelong affection for the dole, the armchair, and British television. Zadie Smith, White Teeth, 2001
Warming himself ever so briefly had shaken away the lethargy and resignation and restored his will to survive. Lois Lowry, The Giver, 1993
Dick Gale drew a long, deep breath. A coldness, a lethargy, an indifference that had weighed upon him for months had passed out of his being. Zane Grey, Desert Gold, 1913
Then it occurred to me that I had shut the window before I had come to bed. I would have got out to make certain on the point, but some leaden lethargy seemed to chain my limbs and even my will. Bram Stoker, Dracula, 1897
St. Clare knew this well; and often, in many a weary hour, he heard that slender, childish voice calling him to the skies, and saw that little hand pointing to him the way of life; but a heavy lethargy of sorrow lay on him,—he could not arise. Harriet Beecher Stowe, Uncle Tom's Cabin, 1852
Symptoms of the disease include loss of appetite and lethargy. I snapped out of my lethargy and began cleaning the house.
Recent Examples on the Web Symptoms of plague in pets Plague symptoms in cats and dogs include fever, lethargy and loss of appetite, according to the New Mexico Department of Health. Gabe Hauari, USA TODAY, 12 Mar. 2024 Even so, newer antihistamines like Allegra and Zyrtec are known to cause side effects like nausea, diarrhea, headache, back pain, and lethargy. Daniel More, Verywell Health, 9 Mar. 2024 Symptoms of bovine tuberculosis in deer Respiratory illness, coughing, nasal discharge, wheezing, fatigue, trouble breathing, emaciation, lethargy, and lesions in chest cavity and/or on lymph nodes. Katie Hill, Outdoor Life, 29 Feb. 2024 Bunny was rushed to a trauma hospital and given fluids, antibiotics and regular feeding to treat her emaciation, lethargy and injuries. Esme Mazzeo, Peoplemag, 22 Jan. 2024 Usually head trauma is followed by fever, lethargy, and poor coordination. Katie Hill, Outdoor Life, 29 Feb. 2024 In dogs, for example, too much THC can cause side effects like incontinence, lethargy, paranoia, vomiting and a coma-like state. Rachel Nuwer, New York Times, 6 Feb. 2024 Botulism is a disease of the neuromuscular junction that causes irritability, constipation, autonomic disturbances such as high blood pressure and fast heart rate, a weak cry, drooping eyelids, poor feeding, lethargy, weakness, and respiratory difficulties. Beth Mole, Ars Technica, 24 Jan. 2024 More severe cases of infection may include aches, headaches, elevated fever, lethargy, rashes, blood in the urine or stool. Mike Snider, USA TODAY, 12 Jan. 2024

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'lethargy.' 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 litargie, from Medieval Latin litargia, from Late Latin lethargia, from Greek lēthargia, from lēthargos forgetful, lethargic, irregular from lēthē

First Known Use

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

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

Dictionary Entries Near lethargy

Cite this Entry

“Lethargy.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/lethargy. Accessed 18 Apr. 2024.

Kids Definition


leth·​ar·​gy ˈleth-ər-jē How to pronounce lethargy (audio)
: abnormal drowsiness
: the quality or state of being slow, lazy, or not caring

Medical Definition


leth·​ar·​gy ˈleth-ər-jē How to pronounce lethargy (audio)
plural lethargies
: abnormal drowsiness
: the quality or state of being lazy, sluggish, or indifferent
lethargic adjective

More from Merriam-Webster on lethargy

Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!