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 slumbering

Historical Examples of slumbering

  • The earth was like a slumbering babe, smiling in its sleep, because it dreams of Heaven.


    Lydia Maria Child

  • Of all this scene, the slumbering river has a dream-picture in its bosom.

  • It was a signal that awakened all the slumbering passions of the nation.

    The Last of the Mohicans

    James Fenimore Cooper

  • Jim did not answer, and a snore seemed to indicate that he was slumbering.

  • Some fellow had lain down on the open staircase, and was slumbering soundly.

    Barnaby Rudge

    Charles Dickens

British Dictionary definitions for slumbering



(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 slumbering



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