sed·​en·​tary | \ˈse-dᵊn-ˌter-ē \

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

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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.
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Recent Examples on the Web

Catering to a new old age focused on a less-sedentary lifestyle—one that craves design—developers are building more active communities and downtown condos. Patrick Sisson, Curbed, "Senior housing: Older Americans face affordability, accessibility challenges," 14 Nov. 2018 After two weeks, the researchers moved the clown fish into tanks pumping out oxygen every few minutes and measured how much oxygen the fish consumed during their most sedentary times. Joanna Klein, New York Times, "Clown Fish Need More Energy to Live in a Bleached Home," 10 Apr. 2018 In the older sedentary people, the output of new T cells from the thymus glands was low. Gretchen Reynolds, New York Times, "How Exercise Can Keep Aging Muscles and Immune Systems ‘Young’," 14 Mar. 2018 Since the majority of U.S. workers are employed in sedentary jobs, most of the physical activity was done outside of the workplace. Mari A. Schaefer,, "Pennsylvanians are more active than the national average, but still overweight. How is that possible?," 28 June 2018 Fatty liver is commonly associated with poor diet, excessive alcohol use, and sedentary lifestyles. Ronald Concha-parra,, "Q&A: Am I at risk for fatty liver disease?," 23 June 2018 For example, obesity and being sedentary may be the root cause of lack of energy, a low libido and other symptoms. Bryant Stamford, The Courier-Journal, "Testosterone replacement therapy is tough. Why don't we talk about it?," 17 May 2018 Oftentimes, deer hunting involves people who are habitually sedentary, generally guys who go out once a year or twice a year to deer hunt. Kristen Jordan Shamus, USA TODAY, "Is it possible to exercise too much? Heart expert says yes," 2 May 2018 Cook’s comments come at a time when the sedentary lifestyle is becoming an increasingly concerning phenomenon in the U.S. workplace. Don Reisinger, Fortune, "Apple's Tim Cook Says Every Apple Park Employee Has a Standing Desk," 15 June 2018

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.

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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

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Statistics for sedentary

Last Updated

23 Nov 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for sedentary

The first known use of sedentary was in 1598

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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 \

Kids Definition of sedentary

: doing much sitting : not physically active


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

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More from Merriam-Webster on sedentary

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with sedentary

Spanish Central: Translation of sedentary

Nglish: Translation of sedentary for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of sedentary for Arabic Speakers

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).


to make faulty or ineffective

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