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 Passports speeding up After months of near-paralysis, the U.S. State Department's passport operations are nearing normal. Star Tribune, "Chicago scores a four-peat," 9 Oct. 2020 After months of near-paralysis and a long climb from a deep backlog, the U.S. State Department said its passport operations are nearing normal. Tribune News Service, al, "Your passport application might not take so long after all," 3 Oct. 2020 The company settled into a kind of paralysis, unable to either deliver on or dial back its ambitions. Fortune, "Magic Leap tried to create an alternate reality. Its founder was already in one," 26 Sep. 2020 There’s finally a season to play in East Lansing after the Spartans remained in a state of paralysis for half the year. Rainer Sabin, Detroit Free Press, "Mel Tucker brings heat in 1st Michigan State football practice since season reinstatement," 22 Sep. 2020 The new study reported that a two-drug combination slowed progression of ALS paralysis by about six weeks over about six months, approximately 25% more than a placebo. Pam Belluck New York Times, Star Tribune, "2 college students dreamed up an ALS treatment," 10 Sep. 2020 San Diego officials have been challenged to shake off the reputation of being cautious to the point of paralysis. San Diego Union-Tribune, "Column: San Diego takes bold step to build new ‘world class’ arena in Midway District," 29 Aug. 2020 Other possible symptoms include headache, dizziness, loss of consciousness, weakness, seizures, paralysis, strokes and more. Dr. Minali Nigam And Dr. Sanjay Gupta, CNN, "We're only just beginning to learn how Covid-19 affects the brain," 29 July 2020 This was a psychological argument for feminism that spoke directly to Gornick’s paralysis of will. Dayna Tortorici, The New York Review of Books, "The Desk and the Daring," 22 Sep. 2020

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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Time Traveler for paralysis

Time Traveler

The first known use of paralysis was in 1525

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Statistics for paralysis

Last Updated

18 Oct 2020

Cite this Entry

“Paralysis.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 20 Oct. 2020.

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More Definitions for paralysis


How to pronounce paralysis (audio)

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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