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

Hamilton Southeastern athlete suffers paralysis in accident CCS denied the allegation in court records. Mark Alesia, Indianapolis Star, "Lawsuit: Former Marion County Jail inmate says he was denied his cancer treatment," 18 June 2018 Kathy Davis suffered facial paralysis after having a tumor removed but a recent surgery allows her to smile again. Andrea K. Mcdaniels,, "Johns Hopkins doctor transforms surgery so patients with facial paralysis can smile again," 27 Apr. 2018 Those disbursements are capped at $275,000 for the 58 who died and 10 who suffered permanent paralysis or brain injuries. David Montero,, "Thousands of Californians are eligible for Las Vegas shooting compensation funds, but they haven't applied," 1 Apr. 2018 Yet the fate of the Trump administration in the wake of the Democratic victory could be paralysis. Allen C. Guelzo, WSJ, "The Blue Wave Breaks Gently," 9 Nov. 2018 And in September this year, two separate papers reported breakthroughs in allowing patients with paralysis to walk, with assistance, as a result of EES. Cathleen O'grady, Ars Technica, "Spinal-cord stimulation allows three paralyzed men to walk with assistance," 31 Oct. 2018 Most analysts agree that congressional paralysis and dysfunction is behind some of the executive expansion. Julia Azari, Vox, "The challenge of Trump’s presidency is legitimacy, not power," 17 Apr. 2018 Some people say sleep paralysis is all about demons and ghouls and paranormal activity. Emma Goddard, Good Housekeeping, "What It's Really Like to Suffer From Sleep Paralysis," 21 Feb. 2016 This might benefit people with paralysis, such as quadriplegics, or people with movement disorders. Elena Weissmann, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Urban horse therapy program coming to Milwaukee's Bay View area will be first of its kind," 4 July 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

8 Dec 2018

Look-up Popularity

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

: 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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Comments on paralysis

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the figure or shape of a crescent moon

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