pal·​sy | \ˈpȯl-zē \
plural palsies

Definition of palsy 

(Entry 1 of 3)

1 : paralysis used chiefly in combination oculomotor palsy — see bell's palsy, cerebral palsy

2 : a condition that is marked by uncontrollable tremor and quivering of the body or one or more of its parts not used technically … an involuntary shake that was to prove the prelude to age's palsy.— Angus Wilson


palsied; palsying

Definition of palsy (Entry 2 of 3)

transitive verb

: to affect with or as if with palsy


\ˈpal-zē \

Definition of palsy (Entry 3 of 3)

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Synonyms & Antonyms for palsy

Synonyms: Noun


Synonyms: Adjective

amicable, chummy, collegial, companionable, cordial, friendly, genial, hearty, neighborly, palsy-walsy [slang], warm, warmhearted

Antonyms: Adjective

antagonistic, hostile, unfriendly

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Examples of palsy in a Sentence


palsy can sometimes be caused by a brain injury


the salesman changed his palsy attitude when he realized that I wasn't buying

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

The cause was progressive supranuclear palsy, a brain disorder, said his wife, Adele Ellis. Washington Post, "Community deaths," 14 June 2018 Symptoms include heart palpitations, facial palsy and arthritis. N'dea Yancey-bragg, USA TODAY, "Tick season: what you need to know about ticks and how to remove them," 23 May 2018 Later signs and symptoms include severe headaches, neck stiffness, arthritis with severe joint pain, facial palsy, nerve pain, shooting pains, problems with short-term memory. Kara Driscoll, ajc, "Lyme disease: 7 questions answered about tick-borne infections," 7 May 2018 Headaches, keener hearing, periods of amnesia, marked muscular tenseness, tremors and palsies. Johnny Miller, San Francisco Chronicle, "Copter pilot faulted in crash that killed Bill Graham," 2 May 2018 While Samms didn’t reveal what may have caused Bell’s palsy to occur the NHS revealed the disease is most likely caused by an infection and cannot be prevented. Stephanie Nolasco, Fox News, "'Dynasty' actress Emma Samms gives update on paralysis from Bell's palsy," 1 May 2018 Additionally, this video hints at nerve issues, as his rehab seemed to include work for a peroneal nerve palsy with foot drop, which often happens with this level of trauma. Profootballdoc,, "Zach Miller video shows he is attacking rehab," 10 Dec. 2017 The cause was progressive supranuclear palsy, said a daughter, Theresa Robinson. Staff Reports, Washington Post, "Notable deaths in the Washington area," 11 Oct. 2017 The Center provides intense motor therapy to children with cerebral palsy. Pioneer Press,, "Children's Lemonade Stand raises $6,045 for church," 19 July 2017

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

Things Became Difficult’ A doctor can usually diagnose Bell’s palsy just by looking at a person, but may decide to do a blood test, MRI, or CT scan to rule out other causes of facial paralysis, like diabetes or tumors. Sarah Klein,, "Angelina Jolie Was Diagnosed With Bell’s Palsy — Here’s What You Need to Know About It," 26 July 2017

Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective

In this very chummy palsy-walsy letter to Kim Jong-un. Fox News, "Analyzing Trump's history of tough talk on North Korea," 25 May 2018 Steuart Gantt Wilson, a former secretary and community volunteer who was a devoted Orioles fan, died of progressive nuclear palsy Oct, 18 at her Timonium home. Jacques Kelly,, "Steuart G. Wilson, volunteer and Orioles fan," 23 Oct. 2017 Bell’s palsy indicates facial weakness, usually only on one side of the face due to damage or dysfunction of the facial nerve, one of the cranial nerves of the body. Meredith Cohn,, "Bell's Palsy a common condition, usually treatable," 23 Aug. 2017 The center will include specific programs for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), autism spectrum disorder (ASD), cerebral palsy, muscular dystrophy and feeding disorders. Jennifer Larino,, "Ochsner to open a new center for children with disabilities in 2018," 9 Aug. 2017 A 47-year-old former Middletown woman, serving a 10-year state prison sentence in the death of a 14-year-old cerebral palsy patient in her care, was sentenced to three years in federal prison for filing fake Medicaid claims in the case. Chris Graves,, "Middletown caregiver sentenced for defrauding Medicaid in disabled Dayton teen's death," 27 July 2017 Wasserman, 60, died of progressive supranuclear palsy June 26 at her home in Manhattan's Stuyvesant Town area, her sister said. Bob Goldsborough,, "Suzanne Wasserman, historian and documentary filmmaker, dies," 21 July 2017 Both asked for custody of their 5-year-old son, who court documents say has cerebral palsy and uses a wheelchair. Beatriz Valenzuela, The Mercury News, "California grandmother pleads not guilty in stabbing; court papers detail family struggles," 9 June 2017 But another remarkable participant was Jamie Watts, who has cerebral palsy and uses a cane. Diane Bell,, "An unexpected gift forges a lasting friendship," 5 June 2017

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'palsy.' 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 palsy


14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1


1615, in the meaning defined above


1951, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for palsy


Middle English palesie, alteration of parlesey, from Anglo-French paralisie, from Latin paralysis

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Time Traveler for palsy

The first known use of palsy was in the 14th century

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More Definitions for palsy


pal·​sy | \ˈpȯl-zē \

Kids Definition of palsy

1 : paralysis

2 : an uncontrollable trembling of the body or a part of the body


pal·​sy | \ˈpȯl-zē \
plural palsies

Medical Definition of palsy 

1 : paralysis used chiefly in combination oculomotor palsy — see bell's palsy, cerebral palsy

2 : a condition that is characterized by uncontrollable tremor or quivering of the body or one or more of its parts not used technically

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Comments on palsy

What made you want to look up palsy? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


playful or foolish behavior

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