apha·​sia ə-ˈfā-zh(ē-)ə How to pronounce aphasia (audio)
medical : loss or impairment of the power to use or comprehend words usually resulting from brain damage (as from a stroke, head injury, or infection)
Aphasia, the cruel illness resulting from a stroke, allowed Jean to understand what was said to her but prevented her from clearly replying.Robert Giroux
aphasic noun or adjective

Examples of aphasia in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web About a year later, the family shared an update saying Willis was suffering from frontotemporal dementia (FTD), which was likely causing his aphasia. Jon Blistein, Rolling Stone, 5 Feb. 2024 More on dementia:Bruce Willis and my dad received the same aphasia diagnosis. David Oliver, USA TODAY, 2 Apr. 2024 Documentary Currently Under Litigation Two days ahead of its release and the same day Morrissey filed the lawsuit, Williams' care team revealed the 59-year-old television personality had been diagnosed with progressive aphasia and frontotemporal dementia (FTD). Esther Kang, Peoplemag, 15 Mar. 2024 Earlier this week, representatives for Williams announced in a statement that the 59-year-old TV personality has been diagnosed with frontotemporal dementia and aphasia. Alexandra Del Rosario, Los Angeles Times, 23 Feb. 2024 According to the team, finding aligns with historical records that describe Emperor Wu as having potential symptoms of a stroke–aphasia, drooping eyelids, and an abnormal gait. Laura Baisas, Popular Science, 28 Mar. 2024 Participants in both trials did experience at least some side effects of CAR-T therapy, which included fever and vomiting as well as neurological effects such as aphasia. Kaitlin Sullivan, NBC News, 13 Mar. 2024 Men and women are affected equally by aphasia, according to Johns Hopkins Medicine. Chad Murphy, The Enquirer, 26 Feb. 2024 Right now there is no cure for aphasia, but speech and language therapy can help some patients. Elizabeth Robinson, NBC News, 23 Feb. 2024

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'aphasia.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


borrowed from French aphasie, from a- a- entry 2 + Greek phásis "utterance, statement" (from pha-, variant stem of phēmí, phánai "to say, speak" + -sis -sis) + French -ie -ia entry 1 — more at ban entry 1

Note: French aphasie was introduced by the physician Armand Trousseau (1801-67) in "De l'aphasie, maladie décrite récemment sous le nom impropre de l'aphémie," Gazette des hôpitaux civils et militaires, tome 37, issue of January 12, 1864, pp. 13-14. As is evident from the title, Trousseau preferred aphasie to the term aphémie, introduced earlier by physician and anthropologist Pierre Paul Broca (1824-80). Broca replied in defense of his coinage in a letter published in the same periodical on January 23. The controversy, with translated extracts from Gazette des hôpitaux, is summarized by John Ryalls in "Where does the term 'aphasia' come from?," Brain and Language, vol. 21 (1984), pp. 358-63. Though Trousseau's arguments are linguistically not at all sound, his choice has nonetheless prevailed.

First Known Use

1864, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of aphasia was in 1864

Dictionary Entries Near aphasia

Cite this Entry

“Aphasia.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/aphasia. Accessed 18 May. 2024.

Medical Definition


apha·​sia ə-ˈfā-zh(ē-)ə How to pronounce aphasia (audio)
: loss or impairment of the power to use or comprehend words usually resulting from brain damage (as from a stroke, head injury, or infection) see motor aphasia compare amusia, anarthria

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