The Nazis had a morbid fascination with human experimentation. These experiments resulted in either painful deaths or moribund survivors with no will to live.

The words ‘morbid’ and ‘moribund’ share a common theme of darkness – figuratively. These words are often heard in film genres like horror and thriller, in media around Halloween, and even in medicine.

Morbid refers to anything on a spectrum of terrible things ranging from gore, sickness, death, or an unhealthy curiosity or interest in such things. For instance, a movie depicting extreme bloodshed, or a deadly sickness, or a person obsessed with bloodshed or sickness can be deemed ‘morbid’. On the other hand, moribund refers to something close to its literal or figurative death. Hence, a person on their deathbed and a company going bankrupt can both be described as ‘moribund’.  Satisfy your morbid curiosity for these ghoulish pair of words by reading more below!

Morbid vs moribund – definitions, uses and example sentences

Definition of morbid

Morbid is pronounced ‘mor-buhd’. It is an adjective that describes something as gruesome, macabre, or deadly.  It can be defined as something that particularly refers to death or disease-related things or in interest in such things, often suggestive of violence, decay, or overall gruesomeness usually considered squeamish.

This horror-filled word can be traced to its Latin fossil ‘morbus’ meaning disease. Hence, the word morbid was originally only used in medicine to describe the nature or severity of a disease or diseased person. However, the word ‘morbid’ encompasses a range of unwholesome references. Thus, anything that suggests the terror of death or something generally grisly can also be called ‘morbid’. The synonyms of morbid are ‘macabre’, ‘ghoulish’, and ‘gruesome’.

Example sentences of morbid:

  • Despite several breakthroughs in recent years, the disease process of morbid obesity is still unclear.

In the first sentence, the word ‘morbid’ is used in the context of disease. ‘Morbid obesity’ refers to a state of obesity that predisposes the obese person to other diseases of the body.

  • Jeffery Dahmer, a known psychopath, admitted to having a morbid interest in witnessing innocent animals die.

Here, the word ‘morbid’ qualifies the noun ‘interest’ which is ‘witnessing innocent animals die’. Such a psychotic interest can be considered unhealthy or grisly and thus called ‘morbid’.

  • The boy’s mother admonished him for describing the roadside accident he witnessed earlier in morbid detail.

In the last sentence, the boy is detailing an accident he saw in graphic detail, suggesting that he’s painting a gore and blood filled picture. His mother reprimanded him because describing gruesome details related to bloodshed is morally inappropriate.

Definition of moribund

The word ‘moribund’ is pronounced ‘maw-ruh-buhnd’. It is an adjective and like its grisly partner, it also came from Latin. ‘Moribund’ evolved from the Latin ‘mori’ meaning ‘dying’. Hence, it refers to something at the end of its life. It is noteworthy that the word refers to the process of dying and not to the state of death. For instance, a dying plant is moribund but a dead plant is not. Moribund can also refer to something at the figurative end of its life or something that is becoming obsolete. For instance, a declining business or a dying trend or fashion can be called ‘moribund’ as well. The synonyms of moribund include ‘dying’ and ‘deathly’.

Example sentences of moribund:

  • The kidnapped girl was found in a moribund state, with her hands and feet tied, close to the town’s park.

In the first sentence, the adjective ‘moribund’ qualifies the noun ‘state’ meaning the state of the girl was horrible and she was near death.

  • The gardener rushed to water the plants he had forgotten in the sun as he saw they were moribund due to extreme heat and dehydration.

In this sentence, the gardener had left his plants outside the shade and they would have wilted and died due to the heat and dehydration unless intervened – they were moribund (near death).

  • The boy’s father advised him not to start a printing press as it is a moribund market owing to rapid digitalization.

In this sentence, the word ‘moribund’  is used in its figurative sense of ‘demise’. The boy’s father suggested that he should not invest in a dying business . Printing press is facing a steep decline because of speedy digitalization and it will soon be obsolete.


In summary, the words ‘morbid’ and ‘moribund’ are adjectives that both deal with the subject of death. Morbid suggests a variety of gloomy things including death and disease or an interest in such things. Moribund refers to something in the process of death or demise. For instance, a sickness that may lead to death or an unhealthy obsession with such sickness is morbid whereas a person dying from such sickness is moribund. Remember that ‘morbid’ has the same number of letters as ‘morose’. They are both synonyms thus utilize this link to memorize their meaning. Remember the Latin root ‘mori’ of moribund, meaning ‘dying’ to learn that it refers to something dying or declining.