cat·​a·​lep·​sy | \ ˈka-tə-ˌlep-sē How to pronounce catalepsy (audio) \
plural catalepsies

Definition of catalepsy

: a trancelike state marked by loss of voluntary motion in which the limbs remain in whatever position they are placed

Other Words from catalepsy

cataleptic \ ˌka-​tə-​ˈlep-​tik How to pronounce catalepsy (audio) \ adjective or noun
cataleptically \ ˌka-​tə-​ˈlep-​ti-​k(ə-​)lē How to pronounce catalepsy (audio) \ adverb

Examples of catalepsy in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web Raphael, the expedition guide, has a form of catalepsy and sleeps for decades at a time. Sara Wheeler, New York Times, 15 Sep. 2017

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'catalepsy.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

First Known Use of catalepsy

14th century, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for catalepsy

Middle English catalempsi, from Medieval Latin catalepsia, from Late Latin catalepsis, from Greek katalēpsis, literally, act of seizing, from katalambanein to seize, from kata- + lambanein to take — more at latch

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The first known use of catalepsy was in the 14th century

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Cite this Entry

“Catalepsy.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 3 Oct. 2022.

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More Definitions for catalepsy


cat·​a·​lep·​sy | \ ˈkat-ᵊl-ˌep-sē How to pronounce catalepsy (audio) \
plural catalepsies

Medical Definition of catalepsy

: a trancelike state of consciousness (as that occurring in catatonic schizophrenia) that is marked by a loss of voluntary motion and a fixed posture in which the limbs remain in whatever position they are placed — compare waxy flexibility


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