Definition of hibernate in US English:



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  • 1(of an animal or plant) spend the winter in a dormant state.

    • ‘At our study site, lizards hibernate from about September or October until April.’
    • ‘About ten days later, or the next spring for those that hibernate in the winter as pupae, the adult emerges, starting the cycle over.’
    • ‘Hedgehogs are active only at night, and some species hibernate in the winter.’
    • ‘Most snakes hibernate underground in the winter and live off stored body fat.’
    • ‘They are diurnal and appear not to hibernate despite the harsh winters of many of their habitats.’
    • ‘They only need the pond for breeding purposes in the spring (though frogs often hibernate in the water).’
    • ‘Dwarf lemurs store up fat in their tails and then draw on it while hibernating; in contrast, no monkey or ape hibernates.’
    • ‘Bears hibernate, which means they need to produce much less energy all winter.’
    • ‘They are territorial and do not hibernate during the winter, but rather forage below the snow and on vegetation that was collected and stored in a haypile at the end of the summer.’
    • ‘In consequence many species hibernate during the winter, emerging only when the signs of spring promise plenty of food, telling them it is time to eat and breed again.’
    • ‘Most puzzling among them are several species that hibernate even when the weather is warm.’
    • ‘The black bears hibernate almost half the year, a stint of inactivity that in almost all other species would almost certainly result in a major reduction in bone density.’
    • ‘Animals that hibernate in winter often suffer a crisis in the Spring as their fat reserves are burnt up before the end of the bad weather.’
    • ‘While most of the community's bears hibernated for the winter back in December, there are still a handful of bears wide awake and looking for food in North Shore residential neighbourhoods.’
    • ‘Contrary to popular opinion, red squirrels do not hibernate over winter.’
    • ‘Madagascar, a large, tropical island off the east coast of Africa, isn't the kind of place you'd expect to find a mammal that hibernates.’
    • ‘This all-round food availability also means that sloth bears have no need to hibernate through the winter months.’
    • ‘In winter, the trees are bare and animals are hibernating, so food is scarce.’
    • ‘It lives as long as seven years, hibernating in winter and laying eggs in the spring.’
    • ‘M. lucifugus is a small, insectivorous bat that hibernates in caves and abandoned mines, relying entirely on stored body fat during the prolonged winter period when flying insects are inactive.’
    lie dormant, lie torpid, sleep, winter, overwinter, hole up
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    1. 1.1 (of a person) remain inactive or indoors for an extended period.
      ‘the pilots who have been hibernating during the winter months get their gliders out again’
      • ‘I spend so much of the rest of the week with people, that I tend to hibernate on the seventh day.’
      • ‘So we mostly hibernated away with our ever growing dvd collection, except for new year's when we ventured out in the pouring rain to the That Amazing Thing party in a nice old pub tucked away off Chapel Street.’
      • ‘She has the impression that I'm depressed because I essentially hibernate and do artsy stuff.’
      • ‘During winter I usually hibernate to the point of feeling quite out of touch with most of my friends.’
      • ‘When you most feel like hibernating and avoiding people, force yourself to get dressed and be with others.’
      • ‘Older people who hibernate during these chilly months could lose stamina, strength, and flexibility.’
      • ‘Apart from cleaning my room I've been staying indoors and hibernating.’
      • ‘I need a cold, dark room where I can hibernate for the next four months in my coat, scarf and thick black tights and sip cups of hot soup.’
      • ‘The cold winter months might seem like a good time to crawl under the covers and hibernate, especially in these uncertain times.’
      • ‘Its winter, its cold, people are hibernating already.’
      • ‘It's depressing if you don't have a girlfriend to hibernate with.’
      • ‘Once again winter is upon us, and with it comes the cold and the desire to hibernate and stay indoors in front of the heater.’


Early 19th century (earlier ( mid 17th century) as hibernation): from Latin hibernare, from hiberna ‘winter quarters’, from hibernus ‘wintry’.