torpor

noun tor·por \ ˈtȯr-pər \
Updated on: 15 Nov 2017

Definition of torpor

1 a :a state of mental and motor inactivity with partial or total insensibility
b :a state of lowered physiological activity typically characterized by reduced metabolism, heart rate, respiration, and body temperature that occurs in varying degrees especially in hibernating and estivating animals

torpor was our Word of the Day on 08/27/2011. Hear the podcast!

Examples of torpor in a Sentence

  1. The news aroused him from his torpor.

  2. after a lifetime of setbacks, defeats, and failures, he could only greet the latest bad news with a resigned fatalism and dull torpor

Recent Examples of torpor from the Web

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

Did You Know?

Our English word torpor looks the same and means the same thing as Latin torpor, from which it was borrowed into Middle English. It stems from the Latin verb torpēre, which means "to be sluggish or numb." "Torpor" first appeared in a 13th-century guide for religious recluses, where it referred to a spiritual or intellectual lethargy, but there is very little evidence of its use over next the 400 years. It began showing up again in the early 1600s in reference to both mental and physical sluggishness. The related adjective "torpid" (from the Latin adjective torpidus) entered the language in the 15th century.

Origin and Etymology of torpor

Middle English, from Latin, from torpēre

Synonym Discussion of torpor

lethargy, languor, lassitude, stupor, torpor mean physical or mental inertness. lethargy implies such drowsiness or aversion to activity as is induced by disease, injury, or drugs.
    • months of lethargy followed my accident
languor suggests inertia induced by an enervating climate or illness or love.
    • languor induced by a tropical vacation
lassitude stresses listlessness or indifference resulting from fatigue or poor health.
    • a depression marked by lassitude
stupor implies a deadening of the mind and senses by shock, narcotics, or intoxicants.
    • lapsed into an alcoholic stupor
torpor implies a state of suspended animation as of hibernating animals but may suggest merely extreme sluggishness.
    • a once alert mind now in a torpor

Other Physiology Terms


TORPOR Defined for English Language Learners

torpor

noun

Definition of torpor for English Language Learners

  • : a state of not being active and having very little energy


Medical Dictionary

torpor

noun tor·por \ ˈtȯr-pər \

medical Definition of torpor

:a state of mental and motor inactivity with partial or total insensibility :extreme sluggishness or stagnation of function


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