from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition.

  • adjective Sluggish, lethargic, or inactive.
  • adjective Showing little interest; apathetic.
  • adjective Conducive to sluggishness or inactivity, especially in being warm and humid.
  • adjective Dormant; hibernating.

from The Century Dictionary.

  • Benumbed; insensible; inactive.
  • Specifically, dormant, as an animal in hibernation or estivation, when it passes its time in sleep: as, a torpid snake.
  • Figuratively, dull; sluggish; apathetic.
  • Pertaining to the torpids, or Lent boat-races at Oxford. See II.
  • noun A second-class racing-boat at Oxford, corresponding to the slogger of Cambridge; also, one of the crew of such a boat.
  • noun plural The Lent boat-races at Oxford.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English.

  • noun An inferior racing boat, or one who rows in such a boat.
  • noun The Lenten rowing races.
  • adjective Having lost motion, or the power of exertion and feeling; numb; benumbed.
  • adjective Dull; stupid; sluggish; inactive.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License.

  • adjective unmoving, dormant or hibernating
  • adjective lazy, lethargic or apathetic

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • adjective in a condition of biological rest or suspended animation
  • adjective slow and apathetic


from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

[Latin torpidus, numbed, paralyzed, from torpēre, to be stiff; see ster- in Indo-European roots.]


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  • So in continued fevers, when the stomach is totally torpid, which is known by the total aversion to solid food, the cutaneous capillaries are by reverse sympathy in a perpetual state of increased activity, as appears from the heat of the skin.

    Zoonomia, Vol. II Or, the Laws of Organic Life Erasmus Darwin 1766

  • One evening, I sat upon our front step, in a kind of torpid state of mind through my refusal to contemplate the dismal future.

    Philip Winwood A Sketch of the Domestic History of an American Captain in the War of Independence; Embracing Events that Occurred between and during the Years 1763 and 1786, in New York and London: written by His Enemy in War, Herbert Russell, Lieutenant in the Loyalist Forces. Robert Neilson Stephens 1886

  • But he did not shed even a single tear, only his face looked more severe than usual, but there was depicted in it a kind of torpid calm.

    The Knights of the Cross or, Krzyzacy Henryk Sienkiewicz 1881

  • Sometimes I have a kind of torpid languid feeling, which is scarcely unpleasant, only strange, you know.

    Charlotte's Inheritance 1875

  • Day after day she lay in bed, in a darkened room, unwilling to lift her voice above a whisper, waiting in a kind of torpid dread for the intelligence that she knew must soon come.

    Cobwebs and Cables Hesba Stretton 1871

  • They probably breed there under stones in summer, and creeping in among the stones pass the winter there, at certain seasons doubtless in a kind of torpid state.

    The Voyage of the Vega round Asia and Europe, Volume I and Volume II Alexander Leslie 1866

  • All was cold and rainy and dark, and we waited in a kind of torpid misery for daylight.

    Views a-foot Bayard Taylor 1851

  • In the winter he dozed away his time, within his father's house, by the fireside, in a kind of torpid state, seldom departing from the chimney-corner; but in the summer he was all alert, and in quest of his game in the fields, and on sunny banks.

    The Natural History of Selborne, Vol. 2 Gilbert White 1756

  • A few guests were coming over for dinner — something which I neither dreaded nor welcomed and which in itself (that is, my torpid indifference) reveals a fascinating aspect of depression’s pathology.

    Darkness Visible Styron, William 1989

  • David hears him go:A vague, remote pity stirred within his breast like a wreathing, raveling smoke, tenuously dispersed within his being, a kind of torpid heart-break he had felt sometimes in winter awakened deep in the night and hearing that dull tread descend the stairs as Albert went to work. (p.440)Instead of the familiar progress from halakhah (Jewish law) to haskalah (secular enlightenment), David makes use of religious props to smack up against the reality of modern urban life in “this Golden Land,” the New World.

    Call It Sleep 2009


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