par·a·lyze | \ ˈper-ə-ˌlīz , 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 She sat paralyzed when she heard the news.

5 : to bring to an end : prevent, destroy deadlock paralyzed action —F. A. Ogg & Harold Zink

Keep scrolling for more

Other words from paralyze

paralyzation \ˌper-ə-lə-ˈzā-shən, ˌpa-rə- \ noun
paralyzer \ˈper-ə-ˌlī-zər, ˈpa-rə- \ noun
paralyzingly \ˈper-ə-ˌlī-ziŋ-lē, ˈpa-rə \ adverb

Synonyms & Antonyms for paralyze


demoralize, emasculate, undo, unman, unnerve, unstring



Visit the Thesaurus for More 

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.
See More

Recent Examples on the Web

Other visitors have been paralyzed or otherwise seriously injured after slipping and falling off the lower and upper falls along the Graveyard Fields loop trail in Canton over the years, Parton said. Joe Marusak, charlotteobserver, "Boy falls 30-60 feet down a steep NC waterfall — and lived," 10 July 2018 Britain is set to leave the E.U. in March, but the government has been paralyzed by internal divisions over the country’s future relationship with the E.U. after Brexit. Alasdair Sandford, NBC News, "Boris Johnson suggests U.K. needs to act like Trump on Brexit," 8 June 2018 When Webber received the inbound, he was paralyzed and couldn’t decide between throwing the pass to Jalen Rose or dribbling the ball himself. Chris Chase, For The Win, "The 11 luckiest moments in sports history," 16 May 2018 Not long afterwards, she was completely paralyzed from the neck down. Caroline Picard, Good Housekeeping, "What Is Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma? Abby Lee Miller Is Diagnosed With Blood Cancer," 19 Apr. 2018 Bailey had been a former professional surfer before he was paralyzed from the waist down in a skateboarding accident. Ramona Sentinel, "Family learns life lessons at adaptive surfing event," 21 Feb. 2018 The bullet had punctured Javier’s lung and hit his spine, paralyzing him., "Aftermath: 'You're going back to East Oakland'," 4 June 2018 Polio had left thousands of children paralyzed, and Salk’s vaccine is rightly viewed as a triumph of 20th-century science. Amanda Schaffer, WIRED, "The Dying Scientist and His Rogue Vaccine Trial," 1 May 2018 The state’s education commissioner had suspended the district’s elected trustees, who had been paralyzed by a 3-3 voting deadlock, but reinstated two of them on Monday. Krista Torralva, San Antonio Express-News, "Two years after takeover, state eases control of Edgewood ISD," 2 July 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.

See More

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

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about paralyze

Statistics for paralyze

Last Updated

5 Sep 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for paralyze

The first known use of paralyze was in 1763

See more words from the same year

Keep scrolling for more

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 \
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 \
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 \ noun

Keep scrolling for more

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).


alleviating pain or harshness

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Musical Words Quiz

  • gramophone
  • Which word describes a musical performance marked by the absence of instrumental accompaniment?
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

Add Diction

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.


Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!