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[som-nuh-luh nt] /ˈsɒm nə lənt/
sleepy; drowsy.
tending to cause sleep.
Origin of somnolent
late Middle English
1425-75; late Middle English sompnolent < Old French < Latin somnolentus, derivative of somnus sleep; see -ulent
Related forms
somnolence, somnolency, noun
somnolently, adverb
hypersomnolence, noun
hypersomnolent, adjective
hypersomnolently, adverb
semisomnolence, noun
semisomnolent, adjective
semisomnolently, adverb
unsomnolent, adjective
unsomnolently, adverb
1. slumberous. 2. somniferous, soporific. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2017.
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Examples from the Web for somnolent
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • Having no leader, it is vague, somnolent, and takes little interest in current events.

    The Forerunners Romain Rolland
  • As for the man on the lookout, he was notorious for his somnolent powers.

    The Voyage of the Aurora Harry Collingwood
  • Perhaps the refreshments had worked a somnolent effect on them, or perhaps the great lopsided moon stared them into silence.

    The Lucky Seventh Ralph Henry Barbour
  • For John Endlich it was all like the echo of a somnolent summer of his boyhood.

    Asteroid of Fear Raymond Zinke Gallun
  • He had departed in tears, leaving her alone with a somnolent old serving-woman.

  • But there was no doubt of the somnolent state of the Puritan.

    A Gentleman Player Robert Neilson Stephens
  • Reggie van Tuyl's usual mode of progress through a restaurant was a somnolent slouch.

    Indiscretions of Archie P. G. Wodehouse
  • Thorpe ate, his eyes half closed, in somnolent satisfaction.

    The Blazed Trail Stewart Edward White
  • The clock now had a silent hall to tick in, and an audience of four or five somnolent merchants.

    The Voyage Out Virginia Woolf
British Dictionary definitions for somnolent


drowsy; sleepy
causing drowsiness
Derived Forms
somnolence, somnolency, noun
somnolently, adverb
Word Origin
C15: from Latin somnus sleep
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 somnolent

mid-15c., sompnolent, from Old French sompnolent (Modern French somnolent) or directly from Latin somnolentus "sleepy, drowsy," from somnus "sleep" (see Somnus). Respelled 17c. on Latin model.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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somnolent in Medicine

somnolent som·no·lent (sŏm'nə-lənt)

  1. Drowsy; sleepy.

  2. Inducing or tending to induce sleep; soporific.

  3. In a condition of incomplete sleep; semicomatose.

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