qui·​es·​cent kwī-ˈe-sᵊnt How to pronounce quiescent (audio)
: marked by inactivity or repose : tranquilly at rest
: causing no trouble or symptoms
quiescent gallstones
quiescently adverb

Did you know?

Hush your puppies and calm your kitties, it’s time to make much (tranquil) ado about quiescent. As you might expect from both its meaning and the sequence of its first four letters, quiescent shares roots with the far more common, and less formal, word quiet. In fact, short is the list of English words beginning "q-u-i-e" that have no kinship with quiet and its various relations suggestive of restfulness and calm. (Our unabridged dictionary lists only two: quiebracha and quiebrahacha, both rare variants of quebracho.) Today’s adjective quiescent traces back to the Latin verb quiēscere, meaning "to become quiet" or "to rest," and was possibly first used by Francis Bacon, who wrote in 1605 that "… as Aristotle endeavoureth to prove, that in all motion there is some point quiescent…" Way to bring it home, Bacon.

Choose the Right Synonym for quiescent

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 quiescent in a Sentence

a group of quiescent loungers recovering from the Thanksgiving feast
Recent Examples on the Web Vesuvius’s importance, too, seems to have waned: the volcano has been quiescent since 1944. Alessio Perrone, Scientific American, 16 Aug. 2023 This was the environment—quiescent in politics, self-consciously sincere in literature—in which Smith and her contemporaries came of age. Adam Kirsch, Harper's Magazine, 14 Aug. 2023 The government has intimidated the rest of the media into a fairly quiescent bunch. Isaac Chotiner, The New Yorker, 22 June 2023 Once schooling, jobs, and travel depend on one’s party affiliation, most members of society remain loyal or at least quiescent. Anna Grzymala-Busse, Foreign Affairs, 10 Dec. 2019 Similarly, Itoh and his team reported in Science Advances in 2020 that tiny hydras of the species Hydra vulgaris also have a quiescent period that acts a lot like sleep. Stephanie Pappas, Scientific American, 16 June 2023 The top flame shows the ideal, reference case of a stable, smooth flame surface in a quiescent environment at atmospheric pressure. Discover Magazine, 15 May 2013 Dickinson said the work, conducted with postdoctoral scholars Gaby Maimon and Andrew Straw, suggests at least part of the brain of the fruit fly (Drosophila melanogaster) is in a different and more sensitive state during flight than when the fly is quiescent [UPI] . Andrew Moseman, Discover Magazine, 18 Feb. 2010 Scientists have stumbled across lentiviruses embedded in the DNA of not just lemurs, but rabbits, ferrets, gliding mammals called colugos, and most recently, rodents—all of them ancient, all of them quiescent, all of them seemingly stripped of their most onerous traits. Katherine J. Wu, The Atlantic, 21 Sep. 2022 See More

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

Word History


borrowed from Latin quiēscent-, quiēscens, present participle of quiēscere "to repose, fall asleep, rest, be quiet," inchoative derivative of a base quiē-, going back to Indo-European *kwi̯eh1- "have a rest" — more at quiet entry 1

First Known Use

1605, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of quiescent was in 1605


Dictionary Entries Near quiescent

Cite this Entry

“Quiescent.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/quiescent. Accessed 8 Dec. 2023.

Kids Definition


qui·​es·​cent kwī-ˈes-ᵊnt How to pronounce quiescent (audio)
: marked by a lack of action or movement
quiescently adverb

Medical Definition


qui·​es·​cent -ᵊnt How to pronounce quiescent (audio)
: being in a state of arrest
quiescent tuberculosis
: causing no symptoms
quiescent gallstones

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