Can word 'stagnation' mean state of not moving physicaly (by a person)?

English is not my main language and I couldn't find the right answer.


  • 2
    Stagnation means "lack of progress or development". The term stagnant (meaning unmoving) can be applied to fluids such as air or water, but not to people. You need inactive (or one of its synonyms).
    – Mick
    Dec 7 '16 at 19:25
  • 1
    Stagnate/stagnation are not used to refer to physical movements of people, but only in a figurative sense: to stagnate to stop developing or making progress: I feel I'm stagnating in this job. oxfordlearnersdictionaries.com/definition/english/stagnate
    – user5267
    Dec 7 '16 at 19:26

We use the word 'sedentary' (MW, definition 2) to refer to people and animals.

doing or requiring much sitting "a sedentary job"

not physically active "a sedentary lifestyle"

So typical usage would be

My boyfriend is pretty sedentary; I have to fight to get him off the couch on weekends.

House cats sleep for 18 hours a day; but when they are awake, they aren't sedentary at all.

The technical term in biology for a creature that doesn't move at all is 'sessile' (MW definition 2) - although 'sedentary' is used sometimes for that also.

permanently attached or established : not free to move about "sessile sponges and coral polyps"

When we apply 'stagnant' (MW definition 2) to people, it's more about their character, their thoughts, or something metaphoric.

not advancing or developing

So you could say:

I feel stagnant lately - maybe I should take an art class or go backpacking through Europe.

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