Did You Know?
Hebetude usually suggests mental dullness, often marked by laziness or torpor. As such, it was a good word for one Queenslander correspondent, who wrote in a letter to the editor of the Weekend Australian of "an epidemic of hebetude among young people who … are placing too great a reliance on electronic devices to do their thinking and remembering." Hebetude comes from Late Latin hebetudo, which means pretty much the same thing as our word. It is also closely related to the Latin word for "dull," hebes, which has extended meanings such as "obtuse," "doltish," and "stupid." Other hebe- words in English include hebetudinous ("marked by hebetude") and hebetate ("to make dull").
Tired from being out late the night before, Jennifer allowed herself to fall into the hebetude of a lazy Sunday afternoon.
"The leaden weight of an irremediable idleness descended upon General Feraud, who having no resources within himself sank into a state of awe-inspiring hebetude." — Joseph Conrad, "The Duel: A Military Story," 1908
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