cat·​a·​ton·​ic ˌka-tə-ˈtä-nik How to pronounce catatonic (audio)
: of, relating to, marked by, or affected with catatonia
catatonic schizophrenia
: characterized by a marked lack of movement, activity, or expression
tourists who were almost catatonic at finding themselves in their hero's presenceNeil Hickey
catatonic noun
catatonically adverb

Example Sentences

a catatonic stare was all that the neglected resident of the nursing home seemed capable of
Recent Examples on the Web His potential death by drowning seemed like an appropriately poetic ending for the most troubled Roy son and his almost catatonic behavior for the first part of the episode raised a lot of questions about what his role in the possible story would be moving forward. Lauren Morgan,, 13 Dec. 2021 Not only does the hungry and catatonic crew enter a twisted but artful parallel plane, à la the Last Supper or any number of Renaissance era depictions of it, in order to commit the unthinkable, but the circumstances leading to their collective decision appear to be outside their sphere of control. Dan Heching, CNN, 31 Mar. 2023 The mother, we are told, is catatonic. Ibtissem Guenfoud, ABC News, 27 Feb. 2023 Even so, the tie market isn’t quite catatonic. Todd Plummer, WSJ, 10 May 2022 Back in season 2, Julian — grappling with addiction and the trauma of being the one to find baby Jericho dead while Dorothy was in a catatonic state — overdosed at a Christmas party. Benjamin Vanhoose, Peoplemag, 17 Mar. 2023 The fragile mother, Angela, entered a catatonic state, smoking Woodbines and staring blankly into the fire, lost in grief. Laurie Gwen Shapiro, New York Times, 10 Mar. 2023 Oscar voters clearly love a good, harrowing performance that runs the gamut between histrionic and catatonic but seem to find movies about mental health issues, well, depressing. Robyn Bahr, The Hollywood Reporter, 23 Jan. 2023 Those with catatonia due to illnesses such as depression or PTSD will respond to a class of medicines called benzodiazepines; these normally sedative drugs can paradoxically cause catatonic patients to awaken. Julia Michie Bruckner, Discover Magazine, 27 Apr. 2020 See More

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

Word History


see catatonia

First Known Use

1904, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of catatonic was in 1904

Dictionary Entries Near catatonic

Cite this Entry

“Catatonic.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 3 Jun. 2023.

Medical Definition


1 of 2 adjective
cata·​ton·​ic ˌkat-ə-ˈtän-ik How to pronounce catatonic (audio)
: of, relating to, marked by, or affected with catatonia
catatonic schizophrenia
catatonic rigidity
catatonic patients
catatonically adverb


2 of 2 noun
: a catatonic individual
Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
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