dys·​to·​nia dis-ˈtō-nē-ə How to pronounce dystonia (audio)
: any of various conditions (such as Parkinson's disease and torticollis) characterized by abnormalities of movement and muscle tone
dystonic adjective

Examples of dystonia in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web The disorder, also known as laryngeal dystonia, hits women more often than men. James Rainey, Los Angeles Times, 8 Apr. 2024 The couple, then based in Oakland, California, had penciled in a trip to Andalusia, Spain, months before, but were unsure whether to go ahead with it when the health of Luban, who has torsion dystonia, a rare movement disorder, began to deteriorate. Cnn.com Wire Service, The Mercury News, 27 Mar. 2024 In a recent study published in the journal Nature Neuroscience, Horn and an international team of researchers took data from more than 530 electrodes implanted in the brains of more than 200 people living with four conditions: Parkinson’s disease, dystonia, Tourette’s syndrome and OCD. Brenda Goodman, CNN, 15 Mar. 2024 Focal dystonia, a neurological disorder that causes involuntary muscle spasms, may also cause the twisties. Colleen Murphy, Health, 22 Mar. 2024 Deep brain stimulators have been used for two decades for movement disorders like Parkinson’s disease and dystonia. Brenda Goodman, CNN, 15 Mar. 2024 Some people can have the full dystonia where a part of the body becomes almost like rigid to a board or like a statue. ... Erin Jensen, USA TODAY, 5 Feb. 2024 According to the National Institutes of Health, dystonia is a neurological movement disorder seen in MS that's characterized by involuntary muscle contractions that cause slow repetitive movements or abnormal postures that can sometimes be painful. Vanessa Etienne, Peoplemag, 27 Nov. 2023 Desiree updated her friends and family on her condition with posts and videos on Facebook, claiming that doctors had landed on dystonia and linked it to the flu vaccine. Brandy Zadrozny, NBC News, 4 Aug. 2023

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'dystonia.' 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 German Dystonie, from dys- dys- + -tonie -tonia

Note: Though dystonia appears in polyglot medial lexica in the 19th century, the use of the word to refer to a specific condition probably dates from the German neurologist Hermann Oppenheim's application of Dystonie to the condition he named dystonia musculorum deformans in the article "Über eine eigenartige Krampfkrankheit des kindlichen und jugendlichen Alters (dysbasia lordotica progressiva, dystonia musculorum deformans)," Neurologisches Centralblatt, Band 30 (1911), pp. 1090-1107.

First Known Use

1860, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of dystonia was in 1860

Dictionary Entries Near dystonia




Cite this Entry

“Dystonia.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/dystonia. Accessed 21 Apr. 2024.

Medical Definition


dys·​to·​nia dis-ˈtō-nē-ə How to pronounce dystonia (audio)
: a state of disordered tonicity of tissues (as of muscle)
dystonic adjective

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