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

But Tatum’s lack of consideration could involve his legal blow that paralyzed wide receiver Darryl Stingley in a preseason game in 1978. Branson Wright,, "Pro Football Hall of Famers hope 2020 class expansion considers specific greats," 3 Aug. 2019 The Project’s tests with hypothermia show 42 percent of the people who come paralyzed into an emergency room can reduce the effects of it or walk out of the hospital on their own. Dave Hyde,, "Hyde: Nick Buoniconti’s life tackled far bigger ideas than football | Commentary," 31 July 2019 The Gulf War in early 1991 sent President George H.W. Bush's approval ratings into the stratosphere and paralyzed Democratic presidential politics. Steve Kornacki, NBC News, "1992: Bill Clinton builds a winning coalition, Jackson is diminished," 29 July 2019 The floods paralyzed rush-hour traffic and stalled cars around the city. CBS News, "Louisiana braces for possible hurricane carrying double trouble," 11 July 2019 Protests in 2014 over rules Beijing imposed for choosing members of the election committee that helps select the chief executive paralyzed parts of the city for weeks. Christopher Bodeen, Fox News, "Hong Kong's first female leader fights for political life," 16 June 2019 Botox blocks signals from your nerves to your muscles and partly paralyzes your muscle strength, which means the function of your muscle itself is reduced. Sarah Wu, Glamour, "I Got Masseter Botox for Teeth Grinding, and Here's What It's Really Like," 28 May 2019 His father, Chris, who is paralyzed from the waist down following a fall from a roof in 2013, spends the summers in Montana. Nick Piecoro, azcentral, "Mike Leake returns to Arizona after years of almost playing for Diamondbacks," 3 Aug. 2019 One episode is about a man, Wesley, who was paralyzed in a shooting at age 24. Spencer Kornhaber, The Atlantic, "What Happens When Queer Eye’s Experts Get Personal," 23 July 2019

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

22 Aug 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).


not constant or steady

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