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[dawr-muh nt] /ˈdɔr mənt/
lying asleep or as if asleep; inactive, as in sleep; torpid:
The lecturer's sudden shout woke the dormant audience.
in a state of rest or inactivity; inoperative; in abeyance:
The project is dormant for the time being.
Biology. in a state of minimal metabolic activity with cessation of growth, either as a reaction to adverse conditions or as part of an organism's normal annual rhythm.
undisclosed; unasserted:
dormant musical talent.
(of a volcano) not erupting.
Botany. temporarily inactive:
dormant buds; dormant seeds.
(of a pesticide) applied to a plant during a period of dormancy:
a dormant spray.
Heraldry. (of an animal) represented as lying with its head on its forepaws, as if asleep.
Origin of dormant
1350-1400; Middle English dorma(u)nt < Anglo-French, present participle of dormir < Latin dormīre to sleep; see -ant
Related forms
nondormant, adjective
semidormant, adjective
1, 2. quiescent. See inactive. 4. latent.
1. awake, active. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for dormant
  • The country is home to both inactive and dormant volcanoes, and is prone to earthquakes.
  • It's normally present as part of a larger protein in a muscle cell's outer membrane, where it lies dormant and inactive.
  • They can live up to 18 months without a meal and can lie dormant until they do damage.
  • This method exposes to light and air all the weed seeds lying dormant in the soil and encourages weed growth.
  • Mars may not be as dormant as scientists once thought.
  • As the turtle's temperature rises, pathogenic bacteria that have lain dormant in its body also revive.
  • Expect them to go dormant briefly after planting or transplanting.
  • Merwin at his home, a former pineapple plantation built atope a dormant volcano on the northeast coast of Maui.
  • Higher up, the dormant volcano is sometimes covered with snow, making skiing possible.
  • The lanes have been dormant and nearly forgotten since the 1960s.
British Dictionary definitions for dormant


quiet and inactive, as during sleep
latent or inoperative
(of a volcano) neither extinct nor erupting
(biology) alive but in a resting torpid condition with suspended growth and reduced metabolism
(usually postpositive) (heraldry) (of a beast) in a sleeping position
Compare active, passive
Derived Forms
dormancy, noun
Word Origin
C14: from Old French dormant, from dormir to sleep, from Latin dormīre
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 dormant

late 14c., "fixed in place," from Old French dormant (12c.), present participle of dormir "to sleep," from Latin dormire "to sleep," from PIE root *drem- "to sleep" (cf. Old Church Slavonic dremati "to sleep, doze," Greek edrathon "I slept," Sanskrit drati "sleeps"). Meaning "in a resting situation" (in heraldry) is from c.1500. Meaning "sleeping' is from 1620s.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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dormant in Science
  1. Being in an inactive state during which growth and development cease and metabolism is slowed, usually in response to an adverse environment. In winter, some plants survive as dormant seeds or bulbs, and some animals enter the dormant state of hibernation.

  2. Not active but capable of renewed activity. Volcanoes that have erupted within historical times and are expected to erupt again are dormant.

The American Heritage® Science Dictionary
Copyright © 2002. Published by Houghton Mifflin. All rights reserved.
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