cat·​a·​plexy | \ ˈka-tə-ˌplek-sē How to pronounce cataplexy (audio) \
plural cataplexies\ ˈka-​tə-​ˌplek-​sēz How to pronounce cataplexy (audio) \

Definition of cataplexy

: sudden loss of muscle power following a strong emotional stimulus

Examples of cataplexy in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web Then came the breakthrough: a litter of around seven Doberman puppies, all of them with narcolepsy and cataplexy. Henry Nicholls, CNN, 24 Oct. 2017 In 2007, Flygare, then a 24-year-old law student, was diagnosed with narcolepsy with cataplexy, a neurological disorder that causes chronic sleepiness and, in her case, symptoms of brief episodes of muscle weakness triggered by strong emotions. Maria Cartaya, CNN, 23 June 2017

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

First Known Use of cataplexy

1883, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for cataplexy

German Kataplexie, from Greek kataplēxis, from kataplēssein to strike down, terrify, from kata- + plēssein to strike — more at plaint

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More About cataplexy

Time Traveler for cataplexy

Time Traveler

The first known use of cataplexy was in 1883

See more words from the same year

Statistics for cataplexy

Cite this Entry

“Cataplexy.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 17 Jun. 2021.

Style: MLA
MLACheck Mark Icon ChicagoCheck Mark Icon APACheck Mark Icon Merriam-WebsterCheck Mark Icon

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for cataplexy


cat·​a·​plexy | \ ˈkat-ə-ˌplek-sē How to pronounce cataplexy (audio) \
plural cataplexies\ -​sēz How to pronounce cataplexy (audio) \

Medical Definition of cataplexy

: a sudden loss of muscle control with retention of clear consciousness that follows a strong emotional stimulus (as elation, surprise, or anger) and is a characteristic symptom of narcolepsy

More from Merriam-Webster on cataplexy Encyclopedia article about cataplexy


Test Your Vocabulary

Name that Thing: Dog Breeds

Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?


Anagram puzzles meet word search.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!