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 Nothing that happens between two people is easy in this world, and our narrator is often paralyzed by self-loathing and jealousy. Mark Richardson, WSJ, "‘Modus Vivendi’ by 070 Shake Review: A Newcomer’s Song Cycle About Heartbreak," 15 Jan. 2020 The president's impeachment has fanned the political flames even more, especially in Congress where a body once capable of hammering out compromise on immigration, gun control and other thorny issues is paralyzed by partisanship. Ledyard King, USA TODAY, "Here's how partisan wrath over Trump's impeachment changed the future of 2 lawmakers," 11 Jan. 2020 Women, on the other hand, are often paralyzed by concerns about backlash and being disliked and, as a result, don’t speak up for themselves. Samantha Boardman, Marie Claire, "How Can I Better Advocate For Myself?," 4 Dec. 2019 The latest crisis erupted at a time when Britain’s political leaders, paralyzed by Brexit, are in little position to help., "LONDON — When Queen Elizabeth II welcomes President Trump and other world leaders to Buckingham Palace on Tuesday to mark the 70th anniversary of NATO, it will be another testament to her extraordinary longevity: She acceded to the throne only three years after the alliance was formed.," 2 Dec. 2019 As characters run through panels, billboards flash their credit score, showing a populace paralyzed by its debt. Los Angeles Times, "IndieCade brings the future of underground gaming to Santa Monica," 13 Oct. 2019 In the United States, already struggling manufacturers are suffering from the higher costs that Trump’s tariffs have imposed on components from China and are paralyzed by uncertainty over whether, when and how the trade hostilities might end. Paul Wiseman, San Diego Union-Tribune, "Hopes are dim as US and China resume high-stakes trade talks," 9 Oct. 2019 The politicization of everyday life puts media pressure on companies to take social stands, at the same time that Washington is paralyzed by hyperpartisanship and unable to pass meaningful gun regulations that force companies’ hands. Alex Shephard, The New Republic, "The Political Overreaction to Walmart’s P.R. Strategy," 5 Sep. 2019 From being paralyzed by fear initially, something changed as the strikes continued, Djokovic said in his book. Danielle Rossingh And Patrick Sung, CNN, "Novak Djokovic: how a kid from war-torn Belgrade beat the odds," 22 Aug. 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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Time Traveler for paralyze

Time Traveler

The first known use of paralyze was in 1763

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Statistics for paralyze

Last Updated

24 Jan 2020

Cite this Entry

“Paralyze.” The Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., Accessed 28 January 2020.

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More Definitions for paralyze


How to pronounce paralyze (audio)

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.
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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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).


showing steady, earnest care and effort

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