When you go to the hospital and they inject you with an anaesthetic, you fall asleep. What is the state when you fall asleep called?

Example sentence:

I was {asleep due to anaesthetic} during the operation

  • Welcome to ELU. I've corrected your mis-spelling and added an example sentence, which we require for single word requests. If it doesn't fit the meaning you want, do please edit your question so that the sentence fits the meaning you do want. (i.e. do you want the equivalent of "sleeping", "asleep" or something else?)
    – AndyT
    Commented May 2, 2018 at 8:10
  • @AndyT the misspelling probably explains why the OP could not find the answer online. Sometimes Google will insist on displaying one, and only one, possible spelling correction and that means you're stuck. This has occasionally happened to me on foreign words I heard on videos which I then wanted to look up their definitions. In the end, I discovered Google mic/mike (search by voice) and it really works!
    – Mari-Lou A
    Commented May 2, 2018 at 8:19
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    @AndyT that would mean going back and re-editing krivenkov's answer? Maybe my comment is suffice to ward off the close voters. Leave it. Tip for future editors: Fix typos and misspellings that surround the actual request, or when the typo in the post is blatantly obvious. Questions based on a misspelt word should not be corrected IMO.
    – Mari-Lou A
    Commented May 2, 2018 at 8:33
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    One word of warning, the phrase "put to sleep" is frequently used as a euphemism for the killing of old or diseased animals by vets.
    – origimbo
    Commented May 2, 2018 at 14:02
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    I would say "under" or "(knocked) out." Commented May 2, 2018 at 17:36

10 Answers 10


What you are looking for is

I was under general anaesthetic during the operation.

‘Anaesthetised’ is not explicit about the anaesthesia being general rather than local, although that would be the usual assumption. With local, one might say ‘I was numbed up’ or ‘they numbed my arm’ or ‘they anaesthetised my leg’ or ‘they gave me an epidural’.

‘Sedated’ is wrong if I’ve understood what you’re asking about. Sedation is less extreme than general anaesthetic. Sedation is induced sleep, whereas general anaesthesia shuts your brain down on a deeper level. You can usually be woken from sedation by shaking or shouting (it depends on how much they give you), although you will fall straight back to sleep and forget the interaction. With sedation, you need local anaesthetic too, or else the pain of cutting is likely to wake you. Milder forms of sedation (e.g. taking a benzodiazepine for anxiety) won’t even put you to sleep.

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    Since the OP accepted your answer (which means they find it useful), can you add references/citations to support your answer? As of now it sounds like an opinion. Commented May 4, 2018 at 7:05

The straight answer would be anesthetized/anaesthetized/anaesthetised because it is the verb form of anaesthesia (the very word you used in your question). It is acknowledged that another answer already mentions "under anaesthesia" (which is not bad but is not a single word to fit the blank in the example sentence).

I was anesthetized/anaesthetized/anaesthetised during the operation

MW (medical dictionary):

transitive verb
variants: or chiefly British anaesthetize also anaesthetise

anesthetized (or chiefly British anesthetized also anesthetised; anesthetizing or chiefly British anesthetizing also anesthetising) :
to subject to anesthesia

Yet another (probably more common) word is sedated.

I was sedated during the operation


transitive verb
: to dose with sedatives

The doctor sedated the patient heavily.

Another one: drugged to mean (rendered) unconscious due to drug(s).

I was drugged during the operation


drugged; drugging
transitive verb
1 : to affect with a drug (see drug); especially : to stupefy by a narcotic drug

looks like he's been drugged

Usage examples of drugged which match the example sentence:


  • 10
    +1 for your suggestions. Though I personally associate "sedated" with "under the influence of strong painkillers, but still conscious" and therefore not asleep. Actually, "anaesthetised" doesn't technically mean asleep/unconscious either, as it could be a local anaesthetic; but I would be likely to interpret it as unconscious.
    – AndyT
    Commented May 2, 2018 at 8:43
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    @AndyT The Oxford English Dictionary has "anaesthetize" first. See also: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oxford_spelling Commented May 2, 2018 at 12:31
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    @AndyT if I say "the doctor anesthetized me before the procedure" I'd generally mean that I was unconscious; for local anesthetic I would more likely say "the dentist anesthetized my jaw before working on my tooth" (indicating that my jaw was administered a local anesthetic). With regards to sedation, I would also consider that to mean "heavily medicated but at least somewhat conscious"... which confusingly might include "twilight anesthesia" where you're sedated heavily enough to not be aware of anything, but not technically unconscious :)
    – Doktor J
    Commented May 2, 2018 at 13:44
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    @StianYttervik You have missed the point of my comment, which was a reply to AndyT. AndyT implied that "ize" spellings were not used in British English, so I provided an example of a British dictionary that uses them. I did not, and would not, prescribe any particular spelling to be used by all English speakers. Incidentally, the œ was put into fœtus erroneously, so is not used in medical articles published in the British Medical Journal. Commented May 2, 2018 at 22:13
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    "Drugged" has a strong connotation that the recipient did not consent to the procedure, e.g. "The interrogator drugged his subject with truth serum." You might use it tongue-in-cheek if you consented, but the effect was more powerful than you expected. Commented May 3, 2018 at 8:46

As a native UK speaker, I'm not aware of a good single-word in general use which denotes that you were both unconscious and that this was due to anaesthetic.

Technically, general anaesthesia is a medically induced coma, so you could use "comatose", however, in common usage this is used with weakened meaning e.g. of sleepy/drunk, so you might be misunderstood. Also, most people would consider a 'coma' to be more serious to 'general anaesthesia', so saying "I was in a medically-induced coma" is likely to make people feel it was very serious and for a prolonged time.

"Unconscious" would probably ok; though technically a state of general anaesthesia is more than just unconsciousness (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/General_anaesthesia), this would likely be understood correctly. In the context of an operation, it would be clear this was medically induced.

Anaesthetised means that you were under the effects of anaesthetic, but this does not necessarily denote that you were unconscious. Context might make it clear, but with an increasing number of operations done under local anaesthetic, I wouldn't rely on it. e.g. "The dentist anaesthetised me and took my tooth out" would almost certainly be understood to mean a local anaesthetic.

Sedated would generally imply that you were not fully unconscious. (e.g. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/General_anaesthetic mentions "sedation and/or unconsciousness").

The usual term used in the UK for being unconscious due to anaesthetic is "under general anaesthetic". However, that's not one-word. This is sometimes simply called "a general", so you could say "I had a general for my appendectomy".

Less formally, "out" can be used to denote unconsciousness, and the context of the operation would imply this was due to anaesthetic. So "I was out during the operation" would be clear that you were under general anaesthetic. However, it's somewhat informal.

  • Since yours seems to be the most complete list I'd like to add an item. Twilight is also a medical term you can use to describe a [particular sort of anaesthetised state.] (en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Twilight_anesthesia)
    – BoredBsee
    Commented May 2, 2018 at 16:26

The laymen term(s) in American English are:


I was out during the operation


I was Knocked-out during the operation


They knocked me out for the operation




5.b in or into an insensible or unconscious state she was out cold)

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    To be "out" was already suggested by @Dan W
    – Mari-Lou A
    Commented May 2, 2018 at 17:39
  • Yes it was, I missed that when reading the answers. Commented May 2, 2018 at 17:41
  • You could add a dictionary's definition. That would better support your answer.
    – Mari-Lou A
    Commented May 2, 2018 at 17:47
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    "put under" is another one .. seems close to these although it might stand as a separate answer.
    – Tom22
    Commented May 4, 2018 at 2:52
  • And can it be: "The doctors put me out during the operation?" Commented Jul 19, 2019 at 16:07

The word you mentioned, "anesthesia", can actually be used to describe the state. From wikipedia:

In the practice of medicine (especially surgery and dentistry), anesthesia or anaesthesia (from greek "without sensation") is a state of temporary induced loss of sensation or awareness.

You can also use the word "narcosis". From Collins:

unconsciousness induced by narcotics or general anaesthetics

Your example sentence could then be:

I was under anesthesia during the operation


I was in a state of narcosis during the operation

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    +1 We say, "I was under anesthesia during the operation."
    – Kris
    Commented May 2, 2018 at 8:13
  • Welcome to ELU. We don't mind whether you're a native speaker or not, we have a policy of not trusting anyone's own ideas, and prefer people to use references to prove that their answer is correct. I've done this for you here. We expect this because even native speakers misunderstand words sometimes - I've often myself found that dictionaries disagree with what I thought a word meant. I've also edited your answer as I corrected the typo in the question. But +1 for good suggestions. I hope you'll continue to make them on other questions too. :)
    – AndyT
    Commented May 2, 2018 at 8:24
  • Note that a state of "anaesthesia" doesn't actually mean "unconscious", although I would generally assume that it meant that.
    – AndyT
    Commented May 2, 2018 at 8:46
  • Or just put under. They put me under to do my wisdom teeth.
    – Mazura
    Commented May 2, 2018 at 18:07
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    The word "under" is the one which conveys the fact that the patient was unconscious. The word "anesthetized" all by itself can apply to conscious situations where pain-blocking or pain-relieving anesthesia is in use.
    – Beanluc
    Commented May 2, 2018 at 20:54

You may not be interested in this, but in medical terms general anaesthesia is an induced coma.

General anaesthesia or general anesthesia (see spelling differences) is a medically induced coma with loss of protective reflexes, resulting from the administration of one or more general anaesthetic agents.
Wikipedia article

So technically you're comatose. You may or may not like this use as coma probably more often than not means unconsciousness from physical injury.


What is the state in which a person is put to sleep using anaesthesia called?

The state is anaesthesia; you're put into that state by an anaesthetic.

  • I fail to see what this adds over the previous answer saying the same thing.
    – AndyT
    Commented May 3, 2018 at 9:17
  • @AndyT No other answer that I can see points out that the author's use of "anaesthesia" (as in the title of the question) should actually be "anaesthetic", the substance causing anaesthesia. Commented May 3, 2018 at 11:29
  • Hmmm. I would have said that "anaesthesia" is both a process that an anaesthetist performs and the state that is induced. Most definitions only give the latter though. But I did find from here that an anaesthetist is "a person qualified to administer anaesthesia". With only one supporting reference out of many I checked, I'm tempted to say you're right. I would, however, argue that correcting the title should be a comment not an answer, and the "answer" part of your post is a duplicate.
    – AndyT
    Commented May 3, 2018 at 12:12
  • @AndyT I agree that anaesthesia is the process, too but I left that out because the question is asking about the state. Commented May 3, 2018 at 12:41

Medical professionals do not have a single word to describe the state you are referring to either. In the operating theatre administering a drug to render someone unconscious is referred to as the 'anaesthetic.' However the same drugs being used for the same purpose of rendering someone unconscious in the intensive care unit is referred to as the 'sedation.' Therefore in the operating theatre you would be anaesthetised, in the ICU you would be sedated.

  • Are you sure that the act of administering the drug is called "anaesthetic"? Commented May 3, 2018 at 12:42

As an alternative:

I was in a state of induced sleep during the operation.

Not better than some of the other answers but thought of a different answer.


It may not be directly relevant, but the state just before you fall asleep is called the "hypnagogic state" or Hypnagogia. As per Wikipedia:

Hypnagogia, ... is the experience of the transitional state from wakefulness to sleep:

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    This is totally not what OP is asking, though Commented May 3, 2018 at 9:13
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    To say that "may not be directly relevant" is quite the understatement.
    – Chris H
    Commented May 3, 2018 at 9:15
  • 3
    Welcome to ELU. This is a Q&A site, not a discussion forum. As such anything typed in the Answer box should answer the Question.
    – AndyT
    Commented May 3, 2018 at 9:16

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