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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.
Origin of hibernate
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 hibernate
  • Jellyfish do not hibernate in a true sense but spend the winter in a dormant stage.
  • Unlike sleep, which continues to draw small amounts of power even though the computer appears to be off, hibernate draws no power.
  • Whatever machine you're using, consider having it go into sleep, standby or hibernate after about a half-hour of inactivity.
  • These hares do not hibernate, but survive the dangerous cold with a number of behavioral and physiological adaptations.
  • They hibernate primarily in deep vertical caves with large rooms acting as cold air traps.
  • The species is nocturnal, and individuals hibernate during the cold summer months.
  • They dig burrows under rocks and logs, and retreat to those burrows to hibernate during the cold winter months.
  • During the cold winter months, speckled rattlesnakes hibernate, often in dens containing other rattlesnakes.
  • Others hibernate or become dormant in the cold of the winter.
  • Action is generating heat, as it should, following the laws of nature for animals that can't hibernate.
British Dictionary definitions for hibernate


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 hibernate

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

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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