sed·​en·​tary | \ ˈse-dᵊn-ˌter-ē How to pronounce sedentary (audio) \

Definition of sedentary

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

Keep scrolling for more

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."

Examples of sedentary in a Sentence

Editing the dictionary is a sedentary job. The work is very sedentary. Their health problems were caused by their sedentary lifestyles. He became sedentary later on in his life.
See More

Recent Examples on the Web

Stressful jobs, sedentary lifestyles, and unhealthy eating habits have made corporate employees in the country overweight. Manavi Kapur, Quartz India, "Nearly two-thirds of Indian executives are overweight—and that evening samosa is to blame," 4 Sep. 2019 While some laziness is expected from a dog that has lived a long, active life, excessive sedentary behavior could indicate health problems. Texas A&m University, Houston Chronicle, "Pet Talk: The signs of an aging dog," 1 Sep. 2019 But studies have shown too many food-centered, isolating and sedentary activities can have their downside. Ron Seifer,, "Got the grandkids? Try getting out into nature | Opinion," 9 Aug. 2019 The two women, mostly onstage together, occupy the zones separately, their contrastive presences balanced: Ms. Beiser hot and more sedentary, Ms. Whelan cool but mobile. Brian Seibert, New York Times, "Review: Wendy Whelan and Maya Beiser’s Meditation on 9/11," 1 Aug. 2019 This seemingly sedentary gesture from me is about so much more than simply plopping down on the couch. Jeff Bogle, Good Housekeeping, "My Daughters are Ditching Their Big Dreams for Their Cell Phones," 8 Aug. 2019 The increase in sedentary behavior was seen in nearly every major subgroup of the U.S. population, the study authors said. Dennis Thompson,, "Americans are sitting more than ever, increasing the risk for at least 10 major health issues," 30 July 2019 The results, based on samples taken from both Boston Marathon runners and sedentary people in 2015, were reported recently in the journal Nature Medicine. Martin Finucane,, "Joslin Diabetes Center study: Marathon runners may get a boost from special stomach bacteria," 5 July 2019 There’s also the ubiquity of food, changing social mores and what is probably a more sedentary lifestyle (though evidence for that, too, is surprisingly hard to come by). Tamar Haspel, Washington Post, "How processed food makes us fat," 17 July 2019

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.

See More

First Known Use of sedentary

1598, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for sedentary

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

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about sedentary

Listen to Our Podcast about sedentary

Statistics for sedentary

Last Updated

14 Sep 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for sedentary

The first known use of sedentary was in 1598

See more words from the same year

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for sedentary



English Language Learners Definition of sedentary

: 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


sed·​en·​tary | \ ˈse-dᵊn-ˌter-ē How to pronounce sedentary (audio) \

Kids Definition of sedentary

: doing much sitting : not physically active


sed·​en·​tary | \ ˈsed-ᵊn-ˌter-ē How to pronounce sedentary (audio) \

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

Keep scrolling for more

Comments on sedentary

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


formidable, illustrious, or eminent

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

The Exceptions Quiz III

  • one green toy robot amidst many red toy robots
  • Which of these words does not mean "nonsense"?
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

Dictionary Devil

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!