pa·​ral·​y·​sis | \ pə-ˈra-lə-səs How to pronounce paralysis (audio) \
plural paralyses\ pə-​ˈra-​lə-​ˌsēz How to pronounce paralyses (audio) \

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

In rare cases, West Nile virus can cause severe disease leading to possible muscle weakness, stiff neck, disorientation, tremors, convulsions, paralysis and coma. Jesse Garza, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Milwaukee mosquitoes test positive for West Nile virus," 27 June 2019 In severe poisonings, complete muscular paralysis and death from asphyxiation can occur. Jaime Welton, The Mercury News, "State issues health warning for mussels sport-harvested in Marin County," 22 June 2019 For decades, Pakistan has battled the misconception that the immunization for polio causes paralysis and infertility. Washington Post, "Hundreds of children in Pakistan have been infected with HIV. Used needles could be to blame.," 7 June 2019 Many blame the power-sharing system for government paralysis and pervasive corruption. The Economist, "Lebanon’s political system leads to paralysis and corruption," 19 Apr. 2018 A month later, the patient was back in the emergency department — this time complaining of paralysis of the lower body. Jessica Seaman, The Denver Post, "At least one death, “hundreds of severe infections” linked to Porter hospital’s use of contaminated surgical instruments, lawsuit alleges," 16 June 2019 Distemper brings the same symptoms, but can also have neurological effects like stumbling, head tilts, circling behavior, tremors, seizures or paralysis, according to the humane society. Emma Keith, Detroit Free Press, "Here's how to protect your pets from parvo and distemper," 8 June 2019 There, she was reportedly diagnosed with the rare immune disorder that attacks nerve cells and causes muscle weakness or paralysis. Alexandria Hein, Fox News, "Arizona student paralyzed by rare disorder while on vacation in Spain," 13 June 2018 An ongoing investigation also identified an 8-year-old girl in the same community who is experiencing paralysis in a lower limb, PAHO stated. Stefano Pozzebon And Susan Scutti, CNN, "Polio re-emerges in Venezuela nearly 30 years after eradication," 11 June 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

7 Jul 2019

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Time Traveler for paralysis

The first known use of paralysis was in 1525

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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 How to pronounce paralysis (audio) \
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 How to pronounce paralysis (audio) \
plural paralyses\ -​ˌsēz How to pronounce paralyses (audio) \

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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Comments on paralysis

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


appealing forcibly to the mind or reason

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