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From Middle English *drousen, from Old English drūsan, drūsian (to sink; become low, slow, or inactive; droop; drowse; become feeble), probably from a merger of Proto-Germanic *drūsijaną (to look down; mourn) and Proto-Germanic *dreusaną (to fall). Cognate with Dutch drozen (to doze; muse), German trauern (to mourn, be sad), Danish drøse (to slow down, be negligent), Norwegian døse (to drowse), Swedish drösa (to be slow), Old English drēosan ("to rush; fall; perish"; > Middle English dresen (to fall down)), Gothic 𐌳𐍂𐌹𐌿𐍃𐌰𐌽 (driusan, to fall; fall down).


  • IPA(key): /dɹaʊz/
  • (file)
  • Rhymes: -aʊz


drowse (third-person singular simple present drowses, present participle drowsing, simple past and past participle drowsed)

  1. (intransitive, also figurative) To be sleepy and inactive.
    • 1902, Jack London, Moon-Face:
      Under the aching noonday glare, when the green things drooped and the birds withdrew to the depths of the forest, and all nature drowsed, his great "Ha! ha!" and "Ho! ho!" rose up to the sky and challenged the sun.
    • 1917 May, Siegfried Sassoon, “The Death-Bed”, in The Old Huntsman and Other Poems, London: William Heinemann, published January 1918, →OCLC, stanza 1, page 94:
      He drowsed and was aware of silence heaped / Round him, unshaken as the steadfast walls; / Aqueous like floating rays of amber light, / Soaring and quivering in the wings of sleep,— []
    • 1973 July, Melville Bell Grosvenor, “Homeward with Ulysses”, in National Geographic, volume 144, number 1:
      In August the cicadas chorused, and the dusty olive trees drowsed in the sun.
  2. (intransitive) To nod off; to fall asleep.
  3. (transitive) To advance drowsily. (Used especially in the phrase "drowse one's way" ⇒ sleepily make one's way.)
    • 1873, Mark Twain [pseudonym; Samuel Langhorne Clemens], Charles Dudley Warner, The Gilded Age: A Tale of To-day, Hartford, Conn.: American Publishing Company, published 1874, →OCLC:
      [T]he wary tadpole returned from exile, the bullfrog resumed his ancient song, the tranquil turtle sunned his back upon bank and log and drowsed his grateful life away as in the old sweet days of yore.
    • 1966, John Cunyus Hodges, William Congreve, the man: a biography from new sources, page 25:
      Congreve held fast to the Greek poets, but otherwise seems to have drowsed his way through Trinity studies.
    • 2002, Marsha Ward, The Man from Shenandoah, page 55:
      Ida had kept him awake while he drowsed his way up the old King's Trace in eastern Missouri, feverish and weak.
    • 2008, Sarah Mayberry, “Cruise Control”, in Best of Makeovers Bundle, page 209:
      They were led into a large, attractive room with twin massage beds, and welcomed by their masseurs—in Balinese tradition, he had a male masseur, Anna a female. He drowsed his way through the first half hour of the treatment, []
  4. (transitive) To make heavy with sleepiness or imperfect sleep; to make dull or stupid.

Derived terms[edit]



drowse (plural drowses)

  1. The state of being sleepy and inactive.
    in a drowse