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Word of the day: Torpid

Torpid

ˈtôrpəd

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ADJECTIVE

Mentally or physically inactive; lethargic.

(Of an animal) Dormant, especially during hibernation.

EXAMPLE SENTENCES

“After working the street fair all weekend, Lali spent Monday in a state of torpid inertia.”

“The stress of closing up the restaurant after a busy Friday night left me torpid.”

“Be careful not to go off the trail, because you don’t want to disturb the torpid animals in the area.”

WORD ORIGIN

Latin, early 17th century

WHY THIS WORD?

For people, to be torpid is to be in a sluggish, lethargic state — physically, mentally, or both. Winter, with its cold, dreary days and lack of sunlight, contributes to torpidity, which crosses over with “torpid” as it relates to an animal. A torpid animal is not just generally lazy — it’s in a state of hibernation. The root word of “torpid” is “torpere,” meaning “be numb or sluggish” in Latin. Interestingly, it’s also the same root word for “torpedo,” a distinctively zippy, high-powered underwater missile. This came from the fish called the torpedo ray (also known as the electric ray), which gives a shock that causes numbness.

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