adjective sed·en·tary \ ˈse-dᵊn-ˌter-ē \
|Updated on: 3 Aug 2018

Definition of sedentary

1 : not migratory : settled
  • sedentary birds
  • sedentary civilizations
2 a : doing or requiring much sitting
  • a sedentary job
b : not physically active
  • a sedentary lifestyle
3 : permanently attached
  • sedentary barnacles

sedentary was our Word of the Day on 04/13/2016. Hear the podcast!

Examples of sedentary in a Sentence

  1. Editing the dictionary is a sedentary job.

  2. The work is very sedentary.

  3. Their health problems were caused by their sedentary lifestyles.

  4. He became sedentary later on in his life.

Recent Examples of sedentary from the Web

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

Sit and Learn About Sedentary

English speakers borrowed sedentary in the late 16th century from Middle French sedentaire, which in turn derives from Latin sedentarius. Sedentarius, which means "of one that sits," is from the present participle of the verb sedēre, meaning "to sit." Other descendants of sedēre in English include dissident, insidious, preside, reside, and subsidy. Sedēre is also the base of the rare word sedens, a noun meaning "a person who remains a resident of the place or region of his birth."

Origin and Etymology of sedentary

Middle French sedentaire, from Latin sedentarius, from sedent-, sedens, present participle of sedēre to sit — more at sit

Other Physiology Terms

SEDENTARY Defined for English Language Learners


Definition of sedentary for English Language Learners

  • : doing or involving a lot of sitting : not doing or involving much physical activity

  • : staying or living in one place instead of moving to different places

SEDENTARY Defined for Kids


adjective sed·en·tary \ ˈse-dᵊn-ˌter-ē \

Definition of sedentary for Students

: doing much sitting : not physically active

Medical Dictionary


adjective sed·en·tary \ ˈsed-ᵊn-ˌter-ē \

medical Definition of sedentary

: doing or requiring much sitting : characterized by a lack of physical activity
  • increased risk of heart disease for those with sedentary jobs

Seen and Heard

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

Love words? Need even more definitions?

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


a lighting electrician on a movie set

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

The Eponym Quiz

  • rubens-painting
  • Which is the best synonym of bowdlerize?
How Strong Is Your Vocabulary?

Test your vocabulary with our 10-question quiz!

Word Winder's CrossWinder

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!