pa·​ral·​y·​sis | \ pə-ˈra-lə-səs \
plural paralyses\ pə-​ˈra-​lə-​ˌsēz \

Definition of paralysis

1 : complete or partial loss of function especially when involving the motion or sensation in a part of the body
2 : loss of the ability to move
3 : a state of powerlessness or incapacity to act

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Synonyms for paralysis



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Examples of paralysis in a Sentence

The disease causes a paralysis of the legs. The whole country is in a state of paralysis. They are trying to end the political paralysis that has been gripping the country.
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Recent Examples on the Web

The paralysis that the toxin causes will usually get better slowly, but people may need to stay in the hospital for weeks or even months after being diagnosed, the CDC says. Korin Miller, SELF, "Del Monte Recalls Canned Corn Over Concerns It Could Cause ‘Life-Threatening Illness'," 14 Dec. 2018 The condition can be fatal if the tick is not removed, as the paralysis can spread to the respiratory muscles and stop a patient from breathing, according to the ALDF. Scott Berson, miamiherald, "How a tick bite caused a 5-year-old girl to wake up paralyzed one morning," 8 June 2018 Some patients are able to recover relatively quickly, while others continue to have paralysis, but experts don't know why that is, Dr. Messonnier said. Carolyn L. Todd, SELF, "The CDC Is Investigating Acute Flaccid Myelitis, a Rare Illness That’s Caused Over 60 Cases of Paralysis This Year," 17 Oct. 2018 The airport has slowly emerged from the paralysis, with a small number of flights embarking on Friday morning, but the drone and its operators still remain at large. Sam Blum, Popular Mechanics, "We Still Have No Idea How to Deal With Drones," 21 Dec. 2018 Moving from paralysis to problem-solving Muro says the government needs to focus more on re-skilling and building up regional economies. Patrick Sisson, Curbed, "When towns lose a factory, what comes next?," 29 Nov. 2018 This door, or receptor, is found on cells in the intestines, and in motor nerves in the spinal cord, which explains why poliovirus infection causes paralysis. Alice Park, Time, "Polio Virus Could Help Treat Brain Cancer. Here's How," 26 June 2018 The toxin itself actually causes muscle paralysis, which is what’s behind the symptoms. Korin Miller, SELF, "Del Monte Recalls Canned Corn Over Concerns It Could Cause ‘Life-Threatening Illness'," 14 Dec. 2018 The procedure caused vocal cord paralysis, meaning Amy couldn't talk above a whisper. Woman's Day Staff, Woman's Day, "How One Woman Is Using Art to Give a Voice to Those With Disabilities," 4 Dec. 2018

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

1525, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for paralysis

Latin, from Greek, from paralyein to loosen, disable, from para- + lyein to loosen — more at lose

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Statistics for paralysis

Last Updated

17 Feb 2019

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Time Traveler for paralysis

The first known use of paralysis was in 1525

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More Definitions for paralysis



English Language Learners Definition of paralysis

medical : a condition in which you are unable to move or feel all or part of your body
formal : a state of being unable to function, act, or move


pa·​ral·​y·​sis | \ pə-ˈra-lə-səs \
plural paralyses\ -​ˌsēz \

Kids Definition of paralysis

: loss of the ability to move all or part of the body (as from disease or injury)


pa·​ral·​y·​sis | \ pə-ˈral-ə-səs \
plural paralyses\ -​ˌsēz \

Medical Definition of paralysis

: complete or partial loss of function especially when involving the power of motion or of sensation in any part of the body — see hemiplegia, paraplegia, paresis sense 1

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