verb (used without object), drowsed, drows·ing.

to be sleepy or half-asleep.
to be dull or sluggish.

verb (used with object), drowsed, drows·ing.

to pass or spend (time) in drowsing (often followed by away): He drowsed away the morning.
to make sleepy.


a sleepy condition; state of being half-asleep.

Origin of drowse

before 900; Old English drūsian to droop, become sluggish (not recorded in ME); akin to Old English drēosan to fall
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for drowse

Historical Examples of drowse

  • And then jest as I was gettin' into a drowse, I heard the cat in the buttery, and I got up to let her out.

  • Your days of hope are over, and you want to drowse by the fire.

    Northern Lights

    Gilbert Parker

  • The landscape seemed to be in drowse, half-sleeping and half-waking.

    A Spoil of Office

    Hamlin Garland

  • She was no sensualist, longing to drowse sleepily in the lap of luxury.

    Sister Carrie

    Theodore Dreiser

  • Unceremoniously Stair Garland awaked Louis from his drowse in the cave's mouth.


    S. R. Crockett

British Dictionary definitions for drowse



to be or cause to be sleepy, dull, or sluggish


the state of being drowsy

Word Origin for drowse

C16: probably from Old English drūsian to sink; related to drēosan to fall
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 drowse

1570s, probably a back-formation from drowsy. Old English had a similar word, but there is a 600-year gap. Related: Drowsed; drowsing.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper