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

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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

That, in turn, often can lead to people living more sedentary lifestyles: watching more television, not eating well and not moving around much. Cody Boteler,, "Population of Baltimore County expected to be 25% senior citizens by next year, officials say," 16 Sep. 2019 Fossils of the animals on the scene prior to that, in a period called the Ediacaran, seemed strange, mainly sedentary or passive like a jellyfish, and unrelated to anything recognizable today. Jason Daley, Smithsonian, "Ancient Worm Died in Its Tracks, Shedding Light on Animal Movement," 7 Sep. 2019 Many of the children had never gone hiking or fishing before joining the program, and most would have been spending a more sedentary summer without it. Markian Hawryluk, CNN, "In one of the country's 'healthiest' states, obesity plagues black and Hispanic people," 3 Aug. 2019 An average sedentary person may have a score of about 30. Lolita C. Baldor, Anchorage Daily News, "Military studies ‘hyperfit’ women who pass grueling courses," 23 Apr. 2019 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

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

12 Oct 2019

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 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

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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 wander slowly or to speak indistinctly

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