verb (used without object)

to sleep, especially lightly; doze; drowse.
to be in a state of inactivity, negligence, quiescence, or calm: Vesuvius is slumbering.

verb (used with object)

to spend or pass (time) in slumbering (often followed by away, out, or through): to slumber the afternoon away.
to dispel or forget by slumbering (often followed by away): to slumber cares away.


Origin of slumber

1175–1225; (v.) Middle English slumeren, frequentative of slumen to doze, derivative of Old English slūma sleep (see -er6); compare German schlummern; (noun) Middle English slomur, slomber, derivative of the v.
Related formsslum·ber·er, nounslum·ber·less, adjectiveun·slum·ber·ing, adjective Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for slumber

Contemporary Examples of slumber

Historical Examples of slumber

  • They were rather of the sort that closes solemnly in slumber with majestic effect.

    The Secret Agent

    Joseph Conrad

  • The lady had fallen into a slumber, and the whisper was too low to awake her.

    Little Dorrit

    Charles Dickens

  • I fell asleep, and dreams of warmth and sweet scents lulled me in my slumber.

    My Double Life

    Sarah Bernhardt

  • But slumber would not come; for hours and hours he vainly sought it.

  • All that tread The globe are but a handful to the tribes That slumber in its bosom.

British Dictionary definitions for slumber



(intr) to sleep, esp peacefully
(intr) to be quiescent or dormant
(tr foll by away) to spend (time) sleeping


(sometimes plural) sleep
a dormant or quiescent state
Derived Formsslumberer, nounslumberless, adjective

Word Origin for slumber

Old English slūma sleep (n); related to Middle High German slummeren, Dutch sluimeren
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 slumber

mid-14c. alteration of slumeren (mid-13c.), frequentative form of slumen "to doze," probably from Old English sluma "light sleep" (cf. Middle Dutch slumen, Dutch sluimeren, German schlummern "to slumber"). Frequentative on the notion of "intermittent light sleep." For the -b-, cf. number, lumber, chamber, etc. Related: Slumbered; slumbering.


mid-14c., from slumber (v.). Slumber party first recorded 1942. Slumberland is from 1875.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper