torpid

adjective

tor·​pid ˈtȯr-pəd How to pronounce torpid (audio)
1
a
: sluggish in functioning or acting
a torpid mind
b
: having lost motion or the power of exertion or feeling : numb
c
: exhibiting or characterized by torpor : dormant
a torpid bird
2
: lacking in energy or vigor : apathetic, dull
torpidity noun

Example Sentences

a torpid sloth that refused to budge off its tree branch my tongue and throat remained torpid for a time following the endoscopy
Recent Examples on the Web An exciting, eventful first half, loaded with Dutch opportunities, gave way to a torpid stretch after halftime that, until Gakpo’s goal, had tilted toward Senegal. Ben Shpigel, New York Times, 21 Nov. 2022 The sequel, by contrast, is torpid, clogged with lengthy but uninteresting tête-à-têtes and generally lacking in vigor, even in the two blowout battle scenes in the final act. Kyle Smith, WSJ, 10 Nov. 2022 Even since Thailand’s 2014 coup d’etat that brought Prayuth to power, reform of the police has topped the agenda, yet progress has been torpid. Charlie Campbell, Time, 6 Oct. 2022 The intensity of that airlift — one of the largest in history — stands in sharp contrast to the torpid pace of evacuations after the withdrawal. Nabih Bulos, Los Angeles Times, 31 Aug. 2022 This lowers the body temperature so much that a torpid hummingbird maintains a hypothermic threshold that nears death. Janaya Wecker, Good Housekeeping, 10 Aug. 2022 Inside, though, Ingrid is in a state of torpid discontent, unhappy with her circumstances but unsure of how to change them. Sarah Chihaya, The New York Review of Books, 25 May 2022 The water was so torpid that a thick layer of dust had settled onto it, giving it a cheerless brown tinge. Washington Post, 9 Mar. 2022 The ongoing slog has come to symbolize the dilemma multinationals face when confronting Germany’s notoriously torpid bureaucracy. Christiaan Hetzner, Fortune, 28 Feb. 2022 See More

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

Word History

Etymology

Middle English, "inattentive, lazy," borrowed from Latin torpidus "numbed, paralyzed," adjective derivative corresponding to the stative verb torpēre "to be numb, lack sensation, be struck motionless, be sluggish or lethargic," going back to dialectal Indo-European *tr̥p-eh2- (whence also Old Church Slavic trĭpěti "to be patient, suffer," Lithuanian tirpstù, tir͂pti "to become stiff, lose feeling, fall asleep [of limbs]"), zero-grade derivative of a verbal base perhaps seen also in the Germanic adjective *þerba- (from *terp-o-), whence Old English þeorf "unleavened," Old Frisian therve, derve "rough, violent," Old High German therp, derp "unleavened," Old Icelandic þjarfr "unleavened, fresh (of water), insipid, flat"

Note: The base *terp- "grow stiff" appears to be limited to Italic, Germanic and Balto-Slavic. There is a homonymous base *terp- "be satisfied," under which is usually placed the Germanic preterit-present verb *þarf "be under a necessity, need," whence German dürfen "to be allowed or permitted (to do)." Pokorny's Indogermanisches etymologisches Wörterbuch takes *terp- "grow stiff" as a "root extension" of a more basic stem *(s)ter-, which, by way of unconditioned ablaut and root extensions, supposedly gives rise to a vast array of vocabulary.

First Known Use

15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1b

Time Traveler
The first known use of torpid was in the 15th century

Dictionary Entries Near torpid

Cite this Entry

“Torpid.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/torpid. Accessed 8 Dec. 2022.

Kids Definition

torpid

adjective
tor·​pid ˈtȯr-pəd How to pronounce torpid (audio)
1
a
: having lost motion or the power of exertion or feeling
b
: exhibiting or characterized by topor
a bear torpid in winter sleep
2
: having too little energy or strength : apathetic

Medical Definition

torpid

adjective
tor·​pid ˈtȯr-pəd How to pronounce torpid (audio)
: sluggish in functioning or acting : characterized by torpor
torpidity noun
plural torpidities

More from Merriam-Webster on torpid

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