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[som-nam-byuh-liz-uh m, suh m-] /sɒmˈnæm byəˌlɪz əm, səm-/
Origin of somnambulism
1790-1800; < New Latin somnambulismus, equivalent to somn(us) sleep + ambul(āre) to walk + -ismus -ism
Related forms
somnambulist, noun
somnambulistic, adjective
semisomnambulistic, adjective Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for somnambulism
Historical Examples
  • The London Post very truly says that where somnambulism can be proved it is a good defense in a criminal action.

    Remarks Bill Nye
  • Really, my dear boy, this is the most astonishing case of somnambulism on record.

    In School and Out Oliver Optic
  • Yankelé walked along mesmerised, reduced to somnambulism by his magnificently masterful patron.

    The King of Schnorrers Israel Zangwill
  • There was something frightful in this somnambulism of drunkenness.

  • But all through the evening, all through the play, Elsie saw nothing but Mr. Dering and him engaged in daylight somnambulism.

  • "Mr. Phelps tells me you suffer from somnambulism," the doctor went on.

    The Ivory Snuff Box Arnold Fredericks
  • I asked, as I wished to know whether he was aware of his somnambulism.

  • It would seem, besides, that she was naturally disposed to somnambulism.

    David Elginbrod George MacDonald
  • In some intuitive way, surviving probably from the somnambulism, she knew or guessed as much as I knew.

    Three More John Silence Stories Algernon Blackwood
  • But somnambulism, while arising in sleep, is not at all a feature of sleep.

    Psychotherapy Hugo Mnsterberg
British Dictionary definitions for somnambulism


a condition that is characterized by walking while asleep or in a hypnotic trance Also called noctambulism
Derived Forms
somnambulist, noun
somnambulistic, adjective
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 somnambulism

1786, "walking in one's sleep or under hypnosis," from French somnambulisme, from Modern Latin somnambulus "sleepwalker," from Latin somnus "sleep" (see Somnus) + ambulare "to walk" (see amble (v.)).

Originally brought into use during the excitement over "animal magnetism;" it won out over noctambulation. A stack of related words came into use early 19c., e.g. somnambule "sleepwalker" (1837, from French somnambule, 1690s), earlier somnambulator (1803); as adjectives, somnambulary (1827), somnambular (1820).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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somnambulism in Medicine

somnambulism som·nam·bu·lism (sŏm-nām'byə-lĭz'əm)
See sleepwalking.

som·nam'bu·lis'tic adj.
The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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