use-icon

HOW TO USE THE DICTIONARY

Learn what the dictionary tells you about words.

Get Started Now!

Some compound words (like bus rapid transit, dog whistle, or identity theft) don’t appear on the drop-down list when you enter them into the search window. If a compound term doesn’t appear in the drop-down list, try entering the term into the search window and then hit the search button (instead of the “enter” key). Alternatively, begin searches for compound terms with a quotation mark.

use-icon

THE USAGE PANEL

The Usage Panel is a group of nearly 200 prominent scholars, creative writers, journalists, diplomats, and others in occupations requiring mastery of language. The Panelists are surveyed annually to gauge the acceptability of particular usages and grammatical constructions.

The Panelists

puzzle-icon

NEED HELP SOLVING A CROSSWORD PUZZLE?

Go to our Crossword Puzzle Solver and type in the letters that you know, and the Solver will produce a list of possible solutions.

open-icon

INTERESTED IN DICTIONARIES?

Check out the Dictionary Society of North America at http://www.dictionarysociety.com

open-icon

AMERICAN HERITAGE DICTIONARY APP

The new American Heritage Dictionary app is now available for iOS and Android.

scroll-icon

INDO-EUROPEAN & SEMITIC ROOTS APPENDICES

Thousands of entries in the dictionary include etymologies that trace their origins back to reconstructed proto-languages. You can obtain more information about these forms in our online appendices:

Indo-European Roots

Semitic Roots

The Indo-European appendix covers nearly half of the Indo-European roots that have left their mark on English words. A more complete treatment of Indo-European roots and the English words derived from them is available in our Dictionary of Indo-European Roots.

open-icon

OPEN DICTIONARY PROJECT

Share your ideas for new words and new meanings of old words!

Start Sharing Now!

100-words-icon

See word lists from the best-selling 100 Words Series!

Find out more!

leth·ar·gy (lĕthər-jē)
Share:
n. pl. leth·ar·gies
1.
a. A lack of energy or vigor; sluggishness.
b. A lack of interest or enthusiasm; apathy: held a pep rally to shake the students out of their lethargy.
2. Medicine An abnormal state of drowsiness, as caused by disease or drugs.

[Middle English letargie, from Old French, from Late Latin lēthārgia, from Greek lēthārgiā, from lēthārgos, forgetful : lēthē, forgetfulness + ārgos, idle (a-, without; see A-1 + ergon, work; see werg- in the Appendix of Indo-European roots).]

Synonyms: lethargy, lassitude, torpor, languor
These nouns refer to a deficiency in mental and physical alertness and activity. Lethargy is a state of sluggishness, drowsy dullness, or apathy: "Your lethargy is such that you will not fight even to protect the freedom which your mothers won for you" (Virginia Woolf).
Lassitude implies weariness or diminished energy such as might result from physical or mental strain: "His anger had evaporated; he felt nothing but utter lassitude" (John Galsworthy).
Torpor suggests the suspension of activity characteristic of an animal in hibernation: "Confinement induced torpor, and from torpor he could easily slip to passivity, resignation, death" (Larry McMurtry).
Languor is the indolence typical of one who is satiated by a life of luxury or pleasure: "with that slow, catlike way about him, cool, aloof, almost contemptuous in the languor and ease of his movements" (Tobias Wolff).

The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2017 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
 

This website is best viewed in Chrome, Firefox, Microsoft Edge, or Safari. Some characters in pronunciations and etymologies cannot be displayed properly in Internet Explorer.