pal·​sy | \ ˈpȯl-zē How to pronounce palsy (audio) \
plural palsies

Definition of palsy

 (Entry 1 of 3)

1 : paralysis used chiefly in combinationoculomotor 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 How to pronounce palsy (audio) \

Definition of palsy (Entry 3 of 3)

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Examples of palsy in a Sentence

Noun palsy can sometimes be caused by a brain injury Adjective the salesman changed his palsy attitude when he realized that I wasn't buying
Recent Examples on the Web: Noun For instance, a hooked-nose face seen scowling from the upper level appears to suffer from Bell’s palsy. San Antonio Express-News, "The Gargoyles Guarding S.A.," 28 Mar. 2020 If left untreated, Lyme disease can lead to cognitive problems such as impaired memory, irregular heart rhythm, neurological symptoms such as facial palsy and neuropathy, and chronic joint inflammation. Julie Washington, cleveland, "Lyme disease vaccine discontinued, but new ways to prevent it are coming: Health Matters," 26 Jan. 2020 His son Guillermo said the cause was complications of progressive supranuclear palsy, a brain disorder. New York Times, "Emilio Nicolas Sr., 88, a Creator of Univision, Dies," 25 Oct. 2019 Ocular palsy is listed by the vaccine manufacturer as a possible rare side effect. Los Angeles Times, "Dr. Bob Sears’ views on vaccines have inspired loyal followers — and a crush of criticism," 3 Sep. 2019 His wife, Lenda (Hill) Naimoli, said the cause was complications of progressive supranuclear palsy, a rare brain disorder. Richard Sandomir, New York Times, "Vince Naimoli, 81, Dies; Brought Major League Baseball to Tampa," 30 Aug. 2019 The referendum was a symptom as much as a cause of the internal revolution: the Rousseauan palsy had already entered the party’s central nervous system. The Economist, "Long live the Tory revolution!," 1 Aug. 2019 When Al, who is sixty-eight, was diagnosed with progressive supranuclear palsy (PSP) in 2012, he was not guaranteed even this. Jacqueline Detwiler, Popular Mechanics, "The Heroes of Science Who Are Unlocking the Brain," 3 Oct. 2018 The cause was progressive supranuclear palsy, a brain disorder, said his wife, Adele Ellis. Washington Post, "Community deaths," 14 June 2018 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

Time Traveler

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

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Statistics for palsy

Last Updated

1 Apr 2020

Cite this Entry

“Palsy.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 1 Apr. 2020.

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More Definitions for palsy


pal·​sy | \ ˈpȯl-zē How to pronounce palsy (audio) \

Kids Definition of palsy

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


pal·​sy | \ ˈpȯl-zē How to pronounce palsy (audio) \
plural palsies

Medical Definition of palsy

1 : paralysis used chiefly in combinationoculomotor 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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More from Merriam-Webster on palsy

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for palsy

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with palsy

Spanish Central: Translation of palsy

Nglish: Translation of palsy for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of palsy for Arabic Speakers Encyclopedia article about palsy

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