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 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

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

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

The couple also met with four-year-old Mckenzie, a WellChild Award winner who learned to speak, swallow, eat, drink, and move again after a virus left him paralyzed, according to the palace. Erica Gonzales, Harper's BAZAAR, "Meghan Markle and Prince Harry Had the Sweetest Moments with Kids at the WellChild Awards," 4 Sep. 2018 Three full universities and 27 school departments have been paralyzed by the demonstrators, and some remain closed. Washington Post, "A ‘Me Too’ movement shakes Chilean universities," 28 June 2018 My husband was paralyzed from Guillain-Barré syndrome, and was in the hospital for two-and-a-half months—and Mariska, in full support mode, sent a piñata the size of half the hospital room. Rebecca Phelps, Marie Claire, "Law & Order: Special Victims Unit: An Oral History," 27 Sep. 2018 The victim shot at random Sunday night at a Walmart south of Seattle is paralyzed from the neck down, his son told KIRO 7. Casey Mcnerthney, ajc, "Family: Walmart shooting victim paralyzed from neck down," 19 June 2018 After overhearing Spinner and Jay say that Jimmy played a part in the prank that made the whole school laugh at him, Rick returned to school with a gun and eventually shot Jimmy, leaving him paralyzed from the waist down. Nerisha Penrose, Billboard, "All the 'Degrassi' References in Drake's 'I'm Upset' Video," 14 June 2018 Negative stress, or distress, is caused by something like a loss of a family member; an overwhelming feeling that can paralyze you, or send you straight to bed. Kate Branch, Vogue, "Now, Experts Say Stress Can Be Good for Your Health—Really," 18 Dec. 2018 Nevada had planned to use three drugs to execute Scott Dozier, who has been on death row since 2007: one as a sedative, one to paralyze him, and the powerful synthetic opioid fentanyl to help kill him. Richard A. Oppel Jr.,, "Nevada execution is blocked after drug maker sues," 12 July 2018 Six years ago, a Pittsburgh police officer pulled 19-year-old Leon Ford over for a traffic stop and shot him five times in the chest, paralyzing him. Aubrey Nagle,, "Pa. death penalty report released, Philly archdiocese settles sex abuse claim | Morning Newsletter," 26 June 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

21 Feb 2019

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).


very full or close together

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

What did you just call me?! A Quiz

  • rows-of-various-emoji
  • If a member of the audience describes your speech as bombastic, does that person mean it is:
How Strong Is Your Vocabulary?

Test your vocabulary with our 10-question quiz!

Word Winder's CrossWinder

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!