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.
  3. 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.
  4. undisclosed; unasserted: dormant musical talent.
  5. (of a volcano) not erupting.
  6. Botany. temporarily inactive: dormant buds; dormant seeds.
  7. (of a pesticide) applied to a plant during a period of dormancy: a dormant spray.
  8. Heraldry. (of an animal) represented as lying with its head on its forepaws, as if asleep.

Origin of dormant

1350–1400; Middle English dorma(u)nt < Anglo-French, present participle of dormir < Latin dormīre to sleep; see -ant
Related formsnon·dor·mant, adjectivesem·i·dor·mant, adjective

Synonyms for dormant

1, 2. quiescent. See inactive. 4. latent.

Antonyms for dormant Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for semi-dormant

Historical Examples of semi-dormant

British Dictionary definitions for semi-dormant


  1. quiet and inactive, as during sleep
  2. latent or inoperative
  3. (of a volcano) neither extinct nor erupting
  4. biology alive but in a resting torpid condition with suspended growth and reduced metabolism
  5. (usually postpositive) heraldry (of a beast) in a sleeping position
Compare active, passive
Derived Formsdormancy, noun

Word Origin for dormant

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



late 14c., "fixed in place," from Old French dormant (12c.), present participle of dormir "to sleep," from Latin dormire "to sleep," from PIE root *drem- "to sleep" (cf. Old Church Slavonic dremati "to sleep, doze," Greek edrathon "I slept," Sanskrit drati "sleeps"). Meaning "in a resting situation" (in heraldry) is from c.1500. Meaning "sleeping' is from 1620s.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

semi-dormant in Science


  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.