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[leth-er-jee] /ˈlɛθ ər dʒi/
noun, plural lethargies.
the quality or state of being drowsy and dull, listless and unenergetic, or indifferent and lazy; apathetic or sluggish inactivity.
Pathology. an abnormal state or disorder characterized by overpowering drowsiness or sleep.
Origin of lethargy
1325-75; < Late Latin lēthargia < Greek lēthargía, equivalent to lḗtharg(os) drowsy + -ia -y3 (see Lethe, -algia); replacing Middle English litargie < Medieval Latin litargīa < Late Greek, Greek, as above
Related forms
hyperlethargy, noun Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for lethargy
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • Means were taken to rouse him from his lethargy, but in vain.

    Byron Richard Edgcumbe
  • Her conversion was an event that broke the lethargy of their stagnant life.

    Leila, Complete Edward Bulwer-Lytton
  • From taciturnity he sank into silence, from quiet into lethargy.

    Anne Constance Fenimore Woolson
  • He had gradually dropped to the floor, and lay there in a lethargy, worn out.

    A Tale of Two Cities Charles Dickens
  • At seven o'clock, A.M. of that day, they were aroused from a lethargy by the cheering cry of the steersman, "there's a sail!"

  • But the wounded man shook off his lethargy and for a moment had command of his faculties.

    The Downfall Emile Zola
  • Men, too, have thrown off the summer lethargy, and shave their neighbors as closely as ever.

    Buffalo Land W. E. Webb
British Dictionary definitions for lethargy


noun (pl) -gies
sluggishness, slowness, or dullness
an abnormal lack of energy, esp as the result of a disease
Derived Forms
lethargic (lɪˈθɑːdʒɪk), lethargical, adjective
lethargically, adverb
Word Origin
C14: from Late Latin lēthargīa, from Greek lēthargos drowsy, from lēthē forgetfulness
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 lethargy

late 14c., litarge, from Old French litargie or directly from Medieval Latin litargia, from Late Latin lethargia, from Greek lethargia "forgetfulness," from lethargos "forgetful," originally "inactive through forgetfulness," from lethe "forgetfulness" (see latent) + argos "idle" (see argon). The form with -th- is from 1590s in English.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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lethargy in Medicine

lethargy leth·ar·gy (lěth'ər-jē)

  1. A state of sluggishness, inactivity, and apathy.

  2. A state of unconsciousness resembling deep sleep.

The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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