pal·​sy | \ ˈpȯl-zē How to pronounce palsy (audio) \
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 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 Bell’s palsy is a paralysis of the facial nerve on one side. Dr. Keith Roach, oregonlive, "Dear Doctor: I’ve refused cholesterol medicine for years but now my physician is insisting," 31 Mar. 2021 Cerebral palsy is caused by damage to the developing brain and affects a person’s ability to control his or her muscles. Amanda Klarsfeld,, "Disability advocate uses Instagram to motivate and educate others," 18 Mar. 2021 Among the more unusual reports, via Medshadow: In an FDA report published in December, three patients experienced Bell’s palsy, a sudden, and usually temporary, weakening or paralysis of the facial muscles. The Enquirer, "Coronavirus vaccines: Why younger people, women react strongly and other questions answered," 11 Mar. 2021 Davis, Sony’s chief creative officer, has been diagnosed with Bell’s palsy. Melinda Newman, Billboard, "Clive Davis' Second Virtual Pre-Grammy Gala Postponed Due to His Illness," 23 Feb. 2021 Cerebral palsy is a neurological condition that leads to problems with movement and coordination. Andrew Joseph, Scientific American, "Robotic Exoskeletons Show Promise As Tool to Help Kids with Cerebral Palsy Walk Easier," 24 Aug. 2017 More troubling are spotty reports of Bell’s palsy—partial facial paralysis—following COVID-19 vaccinations. Jeffrey Kluger, Time, "Too Many Americans Still Mistrust the COVID-19 Vaccines. Here's Why," 5 Jan. 2021 Of about 22,000 people in the phase 3 trial who received the vaccine, four developed a form of temporary facial paralysis called Bell’s palsy. Kate Baggaley, Popular Science, "Here’s where all the COVID-19 vaccine candidates currently stand," 18 Dec. 2020 The National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke estimates that about 40,000 Americans a year develop Bell’s palsy. Stat Staff, STAT, "FDA advisory panel endorses Moderna’s Covid-19 vaccine, clearing way for authorization," 17 Dec. 2020 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 Miller battled progressive supranuclear palsy and died surrounded by immediate family on March 1. Susan Du, Star Tribune, "Robert Miller, neuroscientist and microsurgeon, dies at 81," 5 Apr. 2021 Fact-checking group PolitiFact has said that the Bell’s palsy story has been exaggerated and distorted by social media users. Washington Post, "The Trump administration wants to take credit for a covid vaccine. Trump supporters are undermining it.," 24 Dec. 2020 While the original news article was accurate, fact-checking group PolitiFact has said that the Bell’s palsy story has become exaggerated and distorted. Rachel Lerman, Anchorage Daily News, "Vaccine hoaxes are rampant on social media. Here’s how to spot them.," 18 Dec. 2020 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

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

12 Apr 2021

Cite this Entry

“Palsy.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 15 Apr. 2021.

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More Definitions for palsy


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

Kids Definition of palsy

1 : paralysis
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 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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