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From Middle French sédentaire, from Latin sedentārius (sitting), from sedeō (I sit, I am seated).


  • (US) IPA(key): /ˈsɛd.ən.tɛɹ.i/
  • (UK) IPA(key): /ˈsɛd.ən.tə.ɹi/, /ˈsɛd.ən.tɹi/
  • (file)


sedentary (comparative more sedentary, superlative most sedentary)

  1. Not moving; relatively still; staying in the vicinity.
    The oyster is a sedentary mollusk; the barnacles are sedentary crustaceans.
  2. (anthropology, of a human population) Living in a fixed geographical location; the opposite of nomadic.
  3. (medicine, of a job, lifestyle, etc.) Not moving much; sitting around.
    • 1765 [1738], Bishop William Warburton, The Divine Legation of Moses Demonstrated[1], page 220:
      [] the Egyptians; whose Sages were not sedentary, scholastic Sophists, like the Grecian []
    • 1844 October 3, Benjamin Disraeli, The Acquirement of Knowledge, An address delivered to the members of the Manchester Athenæum:
      [] that any education that confined itself to sedentary pursuits was essentially imperfect, that the body as well as the mind should be cultivated []
  4. (obsolete) inactive; motionless; sluggish; tranquil
    • 1667, John Milton, “Book VIII”, in Paradise Lost. [], London: [] [Samuel Simmons], [], →OCLC; republished as Paradise Lost in Ten Books: [], London: Basil Montagu Pickering [], 1873, →OCLC:
      Such restless revolution day by day
      Repeated, while the sedentary earth
      That better might with far less compass move []
    • 1711 December 22, Joseph Addison, “No. 255”, in The Spectator[2]:
      The Soul, considered abstractedly from its Passions, is of a remiss and sedentary Nature, slow in its Resolves, and languishing in its Executions.
  5. (obsolete) Caused by long sitting.





sedentary (plural sedentaries)

  1. a sedentary person
    • 1998, Effect of acute exercise on skin potential in sedentaries and trained athletes.[3]:
      Endosomatic electrodermal activity (skin potential level and skin potential response) as an indirect indicator of sympathetic nervous system activity was measured in 35 sedentary male students and 22 trained athletes of two groups during resting and after an acute exercise. The aim of this study was to investigate the difference of skin potential parameters between sedentaries and trained athletes before and after the acute exercise in bicycle ergometer.
    • 2001, Jaarbericht, Issues 35-38[4], page 99:
      The non-sedentaries rather do not without grain or rice, but the sedentaries have, in Wirth's table, not much less sheep and goats than the non-sedentaries. That is a reason to suppose that the sedentaries can cope without the non-sedentaries
    • 2005, The Cambridge History of Islam: Volume 1, Volume 2[5], page 19:
      With the decline and eventual downfall of the south, it was their relationship with the Arab sedentaries of the north which assumed greater importance;
    • 2012, Deleuze, The Dark Precursor: Dialectic, Structure, Being[6], page 37:
      Smiths are not nomadic among the nomads and sedentary among the sedentaries, nor half-nomadic among the nomads, half-sedentary among sedentaries.
    • 2015, Road to Beauty Day 8: Hairstyling Tips on the Road[7]:
      "These baths are great both for active people like sportsmen, as well as for sedentaries who spend too much time behind their desks," explains Dicioni Lino