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See more synonyms for lethargy on Thesaurus.com
noun, plural leth·ar·gies.
  1. the quality or state of being drowsy and dull, listless and unenergetic, or indifferent and lazy; apathetic or sluggish inactivity.
  2. Pathology. an abnormal state or disorder characterized by overpowering drowsiness or sleep.
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Origin of lethargy

1325–75; < Late Latin lēthargia < Greek lēthargía, equivalent to lḗtharg(os) drowsy + -ia -y3 (see Lethe, -algia); replacing Middle English litargie < Medieval Latin litargīa < Late Greek, Greek, as above
Related formshy·per·leth·ar·gy, noun
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for lethargy

Contemporary Examples

Historical Examples

  • Her conversion was an event that broke the lethargy of their stagnant life.

    Leila, Complete

    Edward Bulwer-Lytton

  • He had gradually dropped to the floor, and lay there in a lethargy, worn out.

    A Tale of Two Cities

    Charles Dickens

  • Grendon snapped out of the lethargy into which he had sunk, face drawn and gray.

    Slaves of Mercury

    Nat Schachner

  • But the wounded man shook off his lethargy and for a moment had command of his faculties.

    The Downfall

    Emile Zola

  • But not even that gibe could stir M. Binet out of his lethargy of content.


    Rafael Sabatini

British Dictionary definitions for lethargy


noun plural -gies
  1. sluggishness, slowness, or dullness
  2. an abnormal lack of energy, esp as the result of a disease
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Derived Formslethargic (lɪˈθɑːdʒɪk) or lethargical, adjectivelethargically, adverb

Word Origin

C14: from Late Latin lēthargīa, from Greek lēthargos drowsy, from lēthē forgetfulness
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 lethargy


late 14c., litarge, from Old French litargie or directly from Medieval Latin litargia, from Late Latin lethargia, from Greek lethargia "forgetfulness," from lethargos "forgetful," originally "inactive through forgetfulness," from lethe "forgetfulness" (see latent) + argos "idle" (see argon). The form with -th- is from 1590s in English.

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

lethargy in Medicine


  1. A state of sluggishness, inactivity, and apathy.
  2. A state of unconsciousness resembling deep sleep.
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The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.