cat·​a·​to·​nia ˌka-tə-ˈtō-nē-ə How to pronounce catatonia (audio)
: a psychomotor disturbance that may involve muscle rigidity, stupor or mutism, purposeless movements, negativism, echolalia, and inappropriate or unusual posturing and is associated with various medical conditions (such as schizophrenia and mood disorders)

Examples of catatonia in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web Aside from the memory of drum practice, this song is about feeling stuck in depression, losing full days to catatonia… and then feeling lifted out by music. Daniel Kohn, Spin, 1 Sep. 2023 Suddenly the man snapped out of his catatonia and thrashed violently. Hazlitt, 30 Aug. 2023 But the good news is that some of the people who survived the 20th century pandemic only to suffer from symptoms like muscle rigidity and catatonia did eventually recover. Popsci Staff, Popular Science, 21 June 2023 Being in a coma will improve your investment results, but a good, solid case of catatonia may suffice. Scott Burns, Dallas News, 10 May 2023 Could other groups of patients, such as those with catatonia or late-stage dementia, infants, or young children, also be tested? Christof Koch, Scientific American, 1 Nov. 2017 From ice-water plunges to the early days of electroshock therapy, from lobotomies (honored with a Nobel Prize in 1949) to Thorazine catatonia, its treatments belong to the pages of a dark dystopian novel. Thomas Curwenstaff Writer, Los Angeles Times, 10 May 2022 The wobbly territory between reality and paranoia is sensitively portrayed by Joan Allen in her role as Lisey’s sister Amanda, who is treated at a mental institution for catatonia and self-harm, afflictions that mask otherworldly secrets. New York Times, 3 June 2021 That’s what director-choreographer Josh Rhodes and Co. managed to do at the Kennedy Center, with this smashing revival-in-concert of the hallucinogenic story of a boy who goes from catatonia to superstardom. Peter Marks, Washington Post, 10 Dec. 2019

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

Word History


New Latin, from German Katatonie, from kata- cata- + New Latin -tonia

First Known Use

circa 1891, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of catatonia was circa 1891

Dictionary Entries Near catatonia

Cite this Entry

“Catatonia.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 18 May. 2024.

Medical Definition


cata·​to·​nia ˌkat-ə-ˈtō-nē-ə How to pronounce catatonia (audio)
: a marked psychomotor disturbance that may involve stupor or mutism, negativism, rigidity, purposeless excitement, echolalia, echopraxia, and inappropriate or bizarre posturing and is associated with various medical conditions (such as schizophrenia, Huntington's disease, or Wilson's disease)

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