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torpor


Merriam-Webster’s Word of the Day for July 17, 2021 is:

torpor • TOR-per  • noun

1 a : a state of mental and motor inactivity with partial or total insensibility

b : a state of lowered physiological activity typically characterized by reduced metabolism, heart rate, respiration, and body temperature that occurs in varying degrees especially in hibernating and estivating animals

2 : apathy, dullness

Examples:

The magazine article provided ideas for activities designed to shake off the torpor of a rainy day.

“Hummingbirds are one of the few groups of birds that are known to go into torpor, a very deep, sleep-like state in which metabolic functions are slowed to a minimum and a very low body temperature is maintained. If torpor lasted for long periods, we would call it hibernation, but hummingbirds can go into torpor any night of the year when temperature and food conditions demand it.” — The Smithsonian’s National Zoo & Conservation Biology Institute(www.nationalzoo.si.edu)

Did you know?

The English word torpor is a 13th-century borrowing from Latin: torpōr-, torpor mean “numbness, paralysis, absence of energy, lethargy,” and correspond to the Latin verb torpēre, meaning “to be numb, lack sensation; to be struck motionless; to be sluggish or lethargic.” Early use of the English word is found in a 13th-century guide for religious recluses, where it refers to a spiritual or intellectual lethargy, but scant evidence of the word appears between that point and the 1600s, when the word began to be used in reference to both mental and physical sluggishness. The related adjective torpid (from the Latin adjective torpidus, meaning “numbed” or “paralyzed”) has since the 15th century been used to mean “numb,” but today it more often means “lacking in energy or vigor.”

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