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From Middle English slombren, slomren, frequentative of Middle English slummen, slumen (to doze), probably from Middle English slume (slumber), from Old English slūma, from Proto-Germanic *slūm- (slack, loose, limp, flabby), from Proto-Indo-European *(s)lew- (loose, limp, flabby), equivalent to sloom +‎ -er. Cognate with West Frisian slommerje, slûmerje (to slumber), Dutch sluimeren (to slumber), German schlummern (to slumber, doze). Non-Germanic cognates include Albanian gjumë (sleep).



slumber (plural slumbers)

  1. A very light state of sleep, almost awake.
    • John Bunyan
      He at last fell into a slumber, and thence into a fast sleep, which detained him in that place until it was almost night.
    • William Shakespeare
      Fast asleep? It is no matter; / Enjoy the honey-heavy dew of slumber.
    • John Dryden
      Rest to my soul, and slumber to my eyes.
  2. (figuratively) A state of ignorance or inaction.
    • 2009, Ben-Ami Scharfstein, Art without borders: a philosophical exploration of art and humanity
      Marcel Duchamp's urinal and readymades seemed in the beginning to be insider jokes or jokelike paradoxes meant to awaken people from their aesthetic slumbers.

Derived terms[edit]



slumber (third-person singular simple present slumbers, present participle slumbering, simple past and past participle slumbered)

  1. (intransitive) To be in a very light state of sleep, almost awake.
    • Bible, Psalms cxxi. 4
      He that keepeth Israel shall neither slumber nor sleep.
  2. (intransitive) To be inactive or negligent.
  3. (transitive, obsolete) To lay to sleep.
    (Can we find and add a quotation of Wotton to this entry?)
  4. (transitive, obsolete) To stun; to stupefy.
    (Can we find and add a quotation of Spenser to this entry?)


See also[edit]