nar·​co·​lep·​sy | \ ˈnär-kə-ˌlep-sē How to pronounce narcolepsy (audio) \
plural narcolepsies

Definition of narcolepsy

: a condition characterized by brief attacks of deep sleep often occurring with cataplexy and hypnagogic hallucinations

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Other Words from narcolepsy

narcoleptic \ ˌnär-​kə-​ˈlep-​tik How to pronounce narcolepsy (audio) \ adjective

Examples of narcolepsy in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web Harmony Biosciences Holdings, a Plymouth Meeting, Pa.-based maker of therapies for adult narcolepsy, raised $128 million in an offering of 5.3 million shares priced above range at $24. Lucinda Shen, Fortune, "Casper’s CEO is filing for a blank check company. What does he plan to buy?," 19 Aug. 2020 Pirkl has about $500 worth of medical expenses each month to treat conditions like rheumatoid arthritis and narcolepsy. Eli Rosenberg, Washington Post, "Uncertainty, anxiety and sleepless nights for the unemployed as Congress lets $600 benefits lapse," 31 July 2020 Perich said she was fired for pursuing an employment discrimination claim based on a disability, narcolepsy. Adam Liptak,, "Job bias laws do not protect teachers in Catholic schools, Supreme Court rules," 8 July 2020 More recently, in 2009, the Pandemrix vaccine against the swine flu showed signs of a link to narcolepsy in Europe. Roxanne Khamsi, National Geographic, "Here’s how we’ll know when a COVID-19 vaccine is ready," 30 June 2020 Caffeine, of course, makes the cut, but so did modafinil, an alertness drug used to treat narcolepsy. Troy Farah, Ars Technica, "Vicodin, ketamine, and caffeine: The ingredients of a good space pharmacy," 8 June 2020 Only after a few years, once the Food and Drug Administration had approved sodium oxybate as a treatment for narcolepsy, could Frucht get his hands on some. Eric Boodman, STAT, "The vodka trial: In search of a treatment for vocal disorders, a researcher puts patient anecdotes to the test," 10 Feb. 2020 However, amphetamines can also be prescribed for narcolepsy, and methamphetamine can be used to treat ADHD and obesity. Giulia Mcdonnell Nieto Del Rio, CNN, "Indiana mother arrested after her 2-month-old baby dies of meth intoxication, possibly through breast milk, court documents say," 21 Jan. 2020 The good news is that there are safe and effective ways of managing insomnia, sleep apnea, narcolepsy, and more. Christie Griffin, CNN Underscored, "Get more sleep in 2020: Top-rated bedding, devices and more," 23 Jan. 2020

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

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First Known Use of narcolepsy

1880, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for narcolepsy

borrowed from French narcolepsie, from narco- narco- + -lepsie -lepsy

Note: The French word was introduced by the physician and neurologist Jean-Baptiste Gélineau in "De la narcolepsie," Gazette des hôpitaux civils et militaires, 53e année, no. 76 (1er juillet 1880), p. 626: "Je propose de donner le nom de narcolepsie (de νάρκωσις, somnolence, et λαμβάνειν, saisir, prendre) à une névrose rare ou du moins peu connue jusqu'à ce jour, caractérisée par un besoin de dormir impérieux, subit et de courte durée, se reproduisant à des intervalles plus ou moins rapprochées." ("I propose to give the name narcolepsy (from nárkōsis, drowsiness, and lambánein, to seize, take) to a neurosis that is rare, or at least little known up to now, characterized by a pressing urge to sleep, sudden and of short duration, reoccurring in more or less close succession.")

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Time Traveler for narcolepsy

Time Traveler

The first known use of narcolepsy was in 1880

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Cite this Entry

“Narcolepsy.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 21 Jan. 2021.

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More Definitions for narcolepsy


How to pronounce narcolepsy (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of narcolepsy

medical : a medical condition in which someone suddenly falls into a deep sleep while talking, working, etc.


nar·​co·​lep·​sy | \ ˈnär-kə-ˌlep-sē How to pronounce narcolepsy (audio) \
plural narcolepsies

Medical Definition of narcolepsy

: a condition characterized by brief attacks of deep sleep often occurring with cataplexy and hypnagogic hallucinations — compare hypersomnia sense 2

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