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

Khan al-Ahmar is in the 60 percent of the West Bank that is known as Area C and remains under full Israeli control, according to interim peace deals from the 1990s that are seemingly locked in place because of diplomatic paralysis. Fox News, "Doomed Palestinian village turns to Europe as last hope," 16 Sep. 2018 More than half had headaches and half had hemiparesis, weakness or paralysis on one side of the body. NBC News, "Modified polio vaccine helps fight deadly brain tumors," 26 June 2018 Whether America can work its way past polarization, paralysis, and structural barriers to change to actually grasp that option, to take a leap into a new future, very much remains to be seen. David Roberts, Vox, "The Green New Deal, explained," 21 Dec. 2018 Whatever the reason, trying to figure out what to give conjures the same terrible blend: panic, paralysis, paranoia, and fear. Vogue, "Day 7: Get a Next-Level Gift," 12 Nov. 2018 Sleep paralysis, for instance, is the phenomena when, if abruptly woken out of REM sleep, the body remains paralyzed in a half-dream, half-awake state. Aliza Kelly Faragher, Allure, "What Is Lucid Dreaming? Your Guide to Exploring Your Subconscious," 18 Sep. 2018 Rabies is a disease of the nervous system which can cause paralysis or death. Liz Freeman, USA TODAY, "A bat with rabies in Florida launched an overseas search for a Swiss couple," 26 Jan. 2018 But the virus has also been linked to an autoimmune disease that can cause paralysis called Guillain–Barré syndrome as well as an alarming surge in a birth defect called microcephaly in Brazil. Dina Fine Maron, Scientific American, "Zika Virus Threatens U.S. from Abroad," 26 Jan. 2016 As natural antioxidants, these minerals prevent cell death that can lead to the disease, as well as the paralysis and heart failure associated with it. Elaina Zachos, National Geographic, "Exclusive: Fatal Disease Likely Found in Lion Cubs for First Time," 11 Apr. 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

14 Apr 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).


having no equal

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