Printable Version
Pronunciation: tor-pid Hear it!

Part of Speech: Adjective

Meaning: 1. Lethargic, sluggish, slow, phlegmatic, lacking strength or enthusiasm. 2. (A hibernating animal) Dormant, enjoying reduced metabolic activity. 3. Dull, apathetic, lacking vigor.

Notes: Today's is a good word for anyone or anything showing slowness as if from heaviness. It comes with an adverb, torpidly, and several nouns. Torpor is the most popular by far. However, torpidity still haunts the Oxford English Dictionary. If you don't like either of these, you might try torpitude, a rarity these days.

In Play: Feel free to use this word for anyone you see dragging along at work: "Gladys Friday seems unusually torpid today; anything bothering her?" It may be used with any abstract nouns normally associated with such adjectives as active, quick, and the like: "I love to read the memos from the boss to see what his torpid mind can come up with."

Word History: Today's Good Word was taken from Latin torpidus "benumbed" from torpere "be stiff, be numb". We snatched the noun, torpor, straight from Latin torpor "numbness, torpor", without so much as a fare-thee-well. Torpor comes from the Proto-Indo-European root (s)ter- "stiff" with a Fickle S. Greek retained the initial S in its word stereos "solid", a word which wandered into English in stereophonic (= solid sounding) to be later reduced to simply stereo. This root was transformed to tirpstu "to become rigid" in Lithuanian. In Old English it turned up in steorfan "to die", which did not make it down to Modern English. (We now bow in no torpid respect to Susan Ardith, who suggested today's slow-moving Good Word.)

Dr. Goodword,

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