[ dawr-muhnt ]
See synonyms for dormant on
  1. lying asleep or as if asleep; inactive, as in sleep; torpid: The lecturer's sudden shout woke the dormant audience.

  2. in a state of rest or inactivity; inoperative; in abeyance: The project is dormant for the time being.

  1. Biology. in a state of minimal metabolic activity with cessation of growth, either as a reaction to adverse conditions or as part of an organism's normal annual rhythm.

  2. Pathology. (of a disease) in an inactive phase but not cured; no longer exhibiting symptoms but perhaps only temporarily. : Compare latent (def. 2).

  3. undisclosed; unasserted: dormant musical talent.

  4. Geology. (of a volcano) not having erupted within the last 10,000 years, but having the probability of erupting again.: Compare active (def. 10), extinct (def. 5).

  5. Botany. temporarily inactive: dormant buds; dormant seeds.

  6. (of a pesticide) applied to a plant during a period of dormancy: a dormant spray.

  7. Heraldry. (of an animal) represented as lying with its head on its forepaws, as if asleep.

Origin of dormant

First recorded in 1350–1400; Middle English dorma(u)nt, from Anglo-French, present participle of dormir, from Latin dormīre “to sleep”; see -ant

synonym study For dormant

1, 2. See inactive.

Other words for dormant

Opposites for dormant

Other words from dormant

  • non·dor·mant, adjective
  • sem·i·dor·mant, adjective

Words Nearby dormant Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2024

How to use dormant in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for dormant


/ (ˈdɔːmənt) /

  1. quiet and inactive, as during sleep

  2. latent or inoperative

  1. (of a volcano) neither extinct nor erupting

  2. biology alive but in a resting torpid condition with suspended growth and reduced metabolism

  3. (usually postpositive) heraldry (of a beast) in a sleeping position

Origin of dormant

C14: from Old French dormant, from dormir to sleep, from Latin dormīre

Derived forms of dormant

  • dormancy, noun

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

Scientific definitions for dormant


[ dôrmənt ]

  1. Being in an inactive state during which growth and development cease and metabolism is slowed, usually in response to an adverse environment. In winter, some plants survive as dormant seeds or bulbs, and some animals enter the dormant state of hibernation.

  2. Not active but capable of renewed activity. Volcanoes that have erupted within historical times and are expected to erupt again are dormant.

The American Heritage® Science Dictionary Copyright © 2011. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.