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[som-nam-byuh-leyt, suh m-]
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verb (used without object), som·nam·bu·lat·ed, som·nam·bu·lat·ing.
  1. to walk during sleep; sleepwalk.

Origin of somnambulate

1825–35; < Latin somn(us) sleep + ambulate
Related formssom·nam·bu·lant, adjective, nounsom·nam·bu·la·tion, noun
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for somnambulation

Historical Examples

  • This mental effort is termed reverie, or somnambulation, and is described more at large in Sect.

    Zoonomia, Vol. I

    Erasmus Darwin

  • The cataleptic spasm which preceded the reverie and somnambulation in the patient, whose case is related in Sect.

    Zoonomia, Vol. II

    Erasmus Darwin

British Dictionary definitions for somnambulation


  1. (intr) to walk while asleep
Derived Formssomnambulance, nounsomnambulant, adjective, nounsomnambulation, nounsomnambulator, noun

Word Origin

C19: from Latin somnus sleep + ambulāre to walk
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

Word Origin and History for somnambulation


1789, noun of action; see somnambulism.



1821, probably a back-formation from somnambulism. Related: Somnambulated; somnambulating.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper