tor·​pid | \ ˈtȯr-pəd How to pronounce torpid (audio) \

Definition of torpid

1a : 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

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Other Words from torpid

torpidity \ tȯr-​ˈpi-​də-​tē How to pronounce torpid (audio) \ noun

Synonyms & Antonyms for torpid



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Examples of torpid in a Sentence

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 Klein is probably expected to bring the improved focus on operations needed to deliver the profit goal, and Morgan the cloud experience needed to accelerate the so far torpid adoption of its products in that market. Alex Webb | Bloomberg, Washington Post, 11 Oct. 2019 The former is a torpid scene of two young boys tending a ragged field alongside a bony horse with a US brand on its haunch — picking up the pieces in the immediate aftermath of a nation shattered by war., 4 Oct. 2019 Kentucky’s sophomore linebacker reversed the torpid trend of the Wildcats’ season opener Saturday afternoon by forcing a fumble on Toledo’s first play of the third quarter, and then delivering a drive-killing sack on the Rockets’ next possession. Tim Sullivan, The Courier-Journal, 31 Aug. 2019 Investors fear that the world is turning into Japan, with a torpid economy that struggles to vanquish deflation, and is hence prone to going backwards. The Economist, 17 Aug. 2019 But his previous effort, 2017’s Last Flag Flying, was a dull affair, with an amazing ensemble wasted on a torpid narrative. David Sims, The Atlantic, 16 Aug. 2019 The decision to combine bloody-minded perversity with a torpid tempo is certainly daring. N.b., The Economist, 20 June 2019 In 2008, Wendy Thomas, a bioengineer at the University of Washington, showed that some strains of E. coli have evolved fringelike attachment threads called fimbriae that adhere better in fast-flowing water than in a more torpid stream. Carrie Arnold, Quanta Magazine, 25 July 2017 Monday’s men’s college championship between Virginia and Texas Tech was widely predicted to be a duck: a snoozy, asleep-on-the couch-by-10 p.m. bore, thanks to two torpid, defense-first, low-scoring outfits certain... Jason Gay, WSJ, 9 Apr. 2019

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.

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First Known Use of torpid

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

History and Etymology for torpid

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.

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

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Cite this Entry

“Torpid.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 25 Oct. 2021.

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English Language Learners Definition of torpid

: having or showing very little energy or movement : not active


tor·​pid | \ ˈtȯr-pəd How to pronounce torpid (audio) \

Medical Definition of torpid

: sluggish in functioning or acting : characterized by torpor

Other Words from torpid

torpidity \ tȯr-​ˈpid-​ət-​ē How to pronounce torpid (audio) \ noun, plural torpidities

More from Merriam-Webster on torpid

Nglish: Translation of torpid for Spanish Speakers


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