[som-nam-byuh-liz-uh m, suh m-]


Origin of somnambulism

1790–1800; < New Latin somnambulismus, equivalent to somn(us) sleep + ambul(āre) to walk + -ismus -ism
Related formssom·nam·bu·list, nounsom·nam·bu·lis·tic, adjectivesem·i·som·nam·bu·lis·tic, adjective Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for somnambulist

Historical Examples of somnambulist

  • For the most recent mile he had been, practically, a somnambulist.

    Fair Harbor

    Joseph Crosby Lincoln

  • You pretend to be a somnambulist in order to carry out your ends.

    The Ivory Snuff Box

    Arnold Fredericks

  • "Like a—somnambulist," answered Hugh, choosing the word for its intensity.

    David Elginbrod

    George MacDonald

  • I would sooner have faced a dozen ghosts than a somnambulist.

    Tom, Dick and Harry

    Talbot Baines Reed

  • But his furtive movements had not the serene impassibility of the somnambulist.

British Dictionary definitions for somnambulist



a condition that is characterized by walking while asleep or in a hypnotic tranceAlso called: noctambulism
Derived Formssomnambulist, nounsomnambulistic, adjective
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 somnambulist



1786, "walking in one's sleep or under hypnosis," from French somnambulisme, from Modern Latin somnambulus "sleepwalker," from Latin somnus "sleep" (see Somnus) + ambulare "to walk" (see amble (v.)).

Originally brought into use during the excitement over "animal magnetism;" it won out over noctambulation. A stack of related words came into use early 19c., e.g. somnambule "sleepwalker" (1837, from French somnambule, 1690s), earlier somnambulator (1803); as adjectives, somnambulary (1827), somnambular (1820).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

Medicine definitions for somnambulist




Related formssom•nam′bu•listic adj.
The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.