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[hi-ber-neyt] /ˈhɪ bərˌneɪt/
verb (used without object), hibernated, hibernating.
Zoology. to spend the winter in close quarters in a dormant condition, as bears and certain other animals.
Compare estivate.
to withdraw or be in seclusion; retire.
to winter in a place with a milder climate:
Each winter finds us hibernating in Florida.
1795-1805; < Latin hībernātus (past participle of hībernāre to spend the winter). See hibernal, -ate1
Related forms
hibernation, noun
hibernator, noun
posthibernation, adjective
semihibernation, noun
Can be confused
estivate, hibernate. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for hibernation
  • It is unlikely this was hibernation in the zoological sense.
  • The disease disorients bats, disturbing their sleep and causing them to fly when they normally don't, during hibernation.
  • Global warming is disrupting many hibernation schedules, sometimes with deadly consequences.
  • Grizzlies aren't as much interested in the protein in salmon as in the fat, which fuels their high-energy winter hibernation.
  • But with the winter hibernation season closing in, it's sad to know that more bats are sure to die.
  • They have experienced reversible metabolic hibernation.
  • Small mammals such as the hamster and dormouse hibernate, but a bear's deep sleep is not a true state of hibernation.
  • The condition makes bats restless and disturbs their winter hibernation.
  • Instead, they'll fall into a kind of suspended animation, or hibernation.
  • These processes are unique to the winter sleep of bears, which by any reasonable definition is hibernation.
British Dictionary definitions for hibernation


verb (intransitive)
(of some mammals, reptiles, and amphibians) to pass the winter in a dormant condition with metabolism greatly slowed down Compare aestivate
to cease from activity
Derived Forms
hibernation, noun
hibernator, noun
Word Origin
C19: from Latin hībernāre to spend the winter, from hībernus of winter, from hiems winter
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for hibernation

1660s, from Latin hibernationem (nominative hibernatio) "the action of passing the winter," noun of action from past participle stem of hibernare "to winter, pass the winter, occupy winter quarters;" related to hiems "winter," from PIE *gheim- "snow, winter" (cf. Sanskrit heman "in winter," Hittite gimmanza, Greek kheima, Old Church Slavonic zima, Lithuanian žiema "winter").



1802, probably a back-formation from hibernation. Related: Hibernated; hibernating.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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hibernation in Science
An inactive state resembling deep sleep in which certain animals living in cold climates pass the winter. In hibernation, the body temperature is lowered and breathing and heart rates slow down. Hibernation protects the animal from cold and reduces the need for food during the season when food is scarce. Compare estivation.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary
Copyright © 2002. Published by Houghton Mifflin. All rights reserved.
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hibernation in Culture

hibernation definition

Passing the winter in a sleeping or inactive condition. Bears, ground squirrels, woodchucks, and several other kinds of animals hibernate.

The American Heritage® New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition
Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Company.
Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.
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