See also: hébétude



From Late Latin hebetūdō.


  • (UK) IPA(key): /ˈhɛb.ə.tjuːd/
    • (file)
  • (US) IPA(key): /ˈhɛb.ə.tuːd/, /ˈhɛb.ə.tjuːd/


hebetude (uncountable)

  1. Mental lethargy or dullness.
    • 1600, translation attributed to Thomas Nashe, The Hospitall of Incurable Fooles by Tomaso Garzoni, London: Edward Blount, Discourse 6, pp. 32-33,[1]
      The intemperature of the braine is the cause of al this (as phisitions affirme) which maketh all the officiall, and functiue parts full of heauines and indisposition, and so through this hebetude (to vse their terme) vnapt to keepe in minde any thing.
    • 1735 March 5, “Craftsman, Feb. 22 [Julian calendar]. Nº 451.”, in Sylvanus Urban [pseudonym; Edward Cave], editor, The Gentleman’s Magazine, and Historical Chronicle, volume V, London: [] Edward Cave, [], published February 1735, OCLC 192374019, page 85, column 1:
      [T]here are ſeveral Species of Writing, in which a proper Degree of Hebetude is abſolutely neceſſary, as well as in other profeſſions; such as Lexicography, Index-making, and the like; [...]
    • 1798, Thomas Robert Malthus, An Essay on the Principle of Population, London: J. Johnson, Chapter 8, pp. 354-355,[2]
      It would be a supposition attended with very little probability, to believe that a complete and full formed spirit existed in every infant; but that it was clogged and impeded in its operations, during the first twenty years of life, by the weakness, or hebetude, of the organs in which it was enclosed.
    • 1904, Joseph Conrad, Nostromo, Chapter 9,[3]
      Hirsch, with his arms tied behind his back, had been bundled violently into one of the smaller rooms. For many hours he remained apparently forgotten, stretched lifelessly on the floor. From that solitude, full of despair and terror, he was torn out brutally, with kicks and blows, passive, sunk in hebetude.
    • 1926, T. E. Lawrence, Seven Pillars of Wisdom, New York: Dell, 1962, Chapter 84, p. 471,[4]
      Incuriousness was the most potent ally of our imposed order; for Eastern government rested not so much on consent or force, as on the common supinity, hebetude, lack-a-daisiness, which gave a minority undue effect.
    • 1985, Oliver Sacks, “The Lost Mariner”, chapter 2 in The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat (Reset 2007 edition), page 33, footnote 2,
      This dwelling on the past and relative hebetude towards the present – this emotional dulling of current feeling and memory – is nothing like Jimmie’s organic amnesia.

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