par·​a·​lyze | \ ˈper-ə-ˌlīz How to pronounce paralyze (audio) , ˈpa-rə-\
paralyzed; paralyzing

Definition of paralyze

transitive verb

1 : to affect with paralysis The snake's venom paralyzed the mouse.
2 : to make powerless or ineffective A strike would paralyze the industry.
3 : unnerve the parlyzing thing is the uncertainty— Evelyn Whitehead
4 : stun, stupefy I would paralyze the empire with the news!— Rudyard Kipling
5 : to bring to an end : prevent, destroy deadlock paralyzed action— F. A. Ogg & Harold Zink

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Other Words from paralyze

paralyzation \ ˌper-​ə-​lə-​ˈzā-​shən How to pronounce paralyzation (audio) , ˌpa-​rə-​ \ noun
paralyzer \ ˈper-​ə-​ˌlī-​zər How to pronounce paralyzer (audio) , ˈpa-​rə-​ \ noun
paralyzingly \ ˈper-​ə-​ˌlī-​ziŋ-​lē How to pronounce paralyzingly (audio) , ˈpa-​rə \ adverb

Examples of paralyze in a Sentence

The snake's venom paralyzed the mouse. The air strikes have paralyzed the city's transportation system. The company was paralyzed by debt.
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Recent Examples on the Web

Set in the near future, Upgrade centers around a technophobe who is paralyzed in a freak mugging. Pamela Mcclintock, Billboard, "Box Office: 'Solo: A Star Wars Story' Fading Fast, Eyes $28M-$29M Second Weekend," 2 June 2018 Ty-Juan Preer, 11, was paralyzed by a bullet in a drive-by shooting three years ago in Indianapolis. Maureen C. Gilmer, Indianapolis Star, "Shooter left him for dead, but this kid refused to die. Now he's learning to walk again.," 3 Apr. 2018 Green Bay’s Jermichael Finley walked soon after being temporarily paralyzed by Cleveland’s Tashuan Gipson (who, coincidentally, will be on the field playing against Pittsburgh on Sunday as a member of the Jaguars). Drew Magary, GQ, "The NFL Turned Ryan Shazier into a Feel-Good Story Before Anyone Had a Chance to Feel Awful About It," 12 Jan. 2018 Fun fact: Freeman was rescued by former teammate and Hall of Famer Chipper Jones when he was stranded on the interstate after a rare winter storm paralyzed Atlanta in January 2014. Scott Boeck, USA TODAY, "MLB All-Star Game rosters: Red Sox, Astros, Yankees dominate AL; upstart Braves get 4 NL stars," 8 July 2018 While still in the prime of his career, Thomas was paralyzed in a 2000 car crash. Chris Chase, For The Win, "From JJ Watt to Dan Marino: Best all-time first round draft picks for each AFC team," 7 Mar. 2018 Born with spina bifida, a birth defect that left his spine underdeveloped, Douglas led a relatively active childhood until a corrective spinal cord surgery in March of 2001 left him paralyzed. Jane Rogers, Smithsonian, "The Unbreakable Spirit of American Paralympians is Embodied in These Artifacts," 6 Feb. 2018 Several years ago a workplace accident left 42-year-old Michael Gore paralyzed from the waist down and confined to a wheelchair. Sarah Fecht, Popular Mechanics, "The Next Generation of Exoskeleton Will Be Mind-Controlled," 13 Nov. 2013 Mzee, whose left leg had been completely paralyzed after a gymnastics accident, had undergone extensive rehabilitation treatment, but with little progress. Cathleen O'grady, Ars Technica, "Spinal-cord stimulation allows three paralyzed men to walk with assistance," 31 Oct. 2018

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

1763, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for paralyze

French paralyser, back-formation from paralysie paralysis, from Latin paralysis

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Statistics for paralyze

Last Updated

16 May 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for paralyze

The first known use of paralyze was in 1763

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More Definitions for paralyze



English Language Learners Definition of paralyze

: to make (a person or animal) unable to move or feel all or part of the body
: to make (someone or something) unable to function, act, or move


par·​a·​lyze | \ ˈper-ə-ˌlīz How to pronounce paralyze (audio) \
paralyzed; paralyzing

Kids Definition of paralyze

1 : to cause to be unable to move all or part of the body The snake's venom paralyzed the mouse.
2 : to destroy or decrease something's energy or ability to act The city was paralyzed by a heavy snowstorm.


transitive verb
variants: or British paralyse \ ˈpar-​ə-​ˌlīz How to pronounce paralyse (audio) \
paralyzed or British paralysed; paralyzing or British paralysing

Medical Definition of paralyze

: to affect with paralysis

Other Words from paralyze

paralyzation or British paralysation \ ˌpar-​ə-​lə-​ˈzā-​shən How to pronounce paralysation (audio) \ noun

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More from Merriam-Webster on paralyze

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for paralyze

Spanish Central: Translation of paralyze

Nglish: Translation of paralyze for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of paralyze for Arabic Speakers

Comments on paralyze

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


to speak slightingly about or to degrade

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