[som-nif-er-uh s, suh m-]


bringing or inducing sleep, as drugs or influences.

Origin of somniferous

1595–1605; < Latin somnifer inducing sleep (somni-, combining form of somnus sleep + -fer -fer) + -ous
Related formssom·nif·er·ous·ly, adverb Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for somniferous

Historical Examples of somniferous

  • It must have been a work of vast ability in the somniferous school of literature.

    The Scarlet Letter

    Nathaniel Hawthorne

  • Claude Bernard thought it the most somniferous of the opium alkaloids.

  • Caro spoke of his "serious blague," while Victor Hugo found him "somniferous."


    James Huneker

  • Two o'clock has just struck, and no somniferous result has followed.


    Fanny Fern

  • Quaffing it down, and betaking himself to bed, under its somniferous influence, the Wye waterman is soon in the land of dreams.

    Gwen Wynn

    Mayne Reid

British Dictionary definitions for somniferous




rare tending to induce sleep
Derived Formssomniferously, adverb

Word Origin for somniferous

C17: from Latin somnifer (from somnus sleep + ferre to do) + -ous
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 somniferous

"sleep-producing," c.1600, from Latin somnifer, from somni- "sleep" + ferre "to bear" (see infer). With -ous.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

somniferous in Medicine




Inducing sleep; soporific.
The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.