som·​no·​lent | \ ˈsäm-nə-lənt How to pronounce somnolent (audio) \

Definition of somnolent

1 : of a kind likely to induce sleep a somnolent sermon
2a : inclined to or heavy with sleep : drowsy
b : sleepy sense 2 somnolent rivers

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Other Words from somnolent

somnolently adverb

Synonyms & Antonyms for somnolent



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The Sleepy History of Somnolent

Somnolent first appeared in the late 15th century in the redundant phrase "somnolent sleep." It came into English by way of Anglo-French from the Latin word somnolentus, which itself comes from somnus, meaning "sleep." Another offspring of somnus is somnambulism, a synonym of sleepwalking. Insomnia is also a member of this sleepy word family, though it might be considered the black sheep, since it means, of course, "the inability to sleep."

Examples of somnolent in a Sentence

trying to teach somnolent students on a very hot day the somnolent hum of insects in the grass
Recent Examples on the Web Although her eyes are open and piercingly blue, there is something of a somnolent haze about her, like a girl who has not yet awakened to her adulthood. Tom Teicholz, Forbes, 15 Sep. 2021 Outside Jordan, the queen’s Jackie Kennedy-like mystique helped raise Jordan’s profile, sometimes rattling the kingdom’s largely somnolent diplomatic corps. Laura King, Los Angeles Times, 6 Apr. 2021 The site of Brown’s family house—which burned down a hundred years ago—was in the woods, up a somnolent arterial road named for Brown. John Lahr, The New Yorker, 14 Sep. 2020 During the primary season, Biden’s fundraising was atrocious and the enthusiasm level of his crowds ranged from tepid to somnolent. Kyle Smith, National Review, 16 Apr. 2020 And given both Justin Timberlake’s somnolent 2018 performance and Maroon 5 and Travis Scott’s haphazard, cringe-inducing celebration of Adam Levine’s chest tattoos, the past few halftime shows have offered plenty of room for improvement. Lindsay Zoladz, New York Times, 30 Jan. 2020 Often the challenge lies as much in bringing somnolent machines to life. Shari Rudavsky, Indianapolis Star, 27 Feb. 2020 That may be partly due to cinematographer Nicholas Wiesnet's oppressively dark visuals (most of the story takes place at night), which tend to produce an unnecessarily somnolent effect. Frank Scheck, The Hollywood Reporter, 9 Jan. 2020 And then some kids get so sleepy and somnolent and difficult to wake up that they get put on a breathing machine. Kristen Jordan Shamus, Detroit Free Press, 15 Nov. 2019

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'somnolent.' 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 somnolent

15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for somnolent

Middle English sompnolent, from Anglo-French, from Latin somnolentus, from somnus sleep; akin to Old English swefn sleep, Greek hypnos

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The first known use of somnolent was in the 15th century

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Last Updated

28 Sep 2021

Cite this Entry

“Somnolent.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 15 Oct. 2021.

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More Definitions for somnolent


som·​no·​lent | \ -lənt How to pronounce somnolent (audio) \

Medical Definition of somnolent

: inclined to or heavy with sleep : drowsy


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