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

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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



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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

Sutton made a race of it, leaning into a record of public service as well as his history as a professional bronco rider, a career that left him paralyzed. Dylan Scott, Vox, "Kristi Noem elected first woman governor of South Dakota," 7 Nov. 2018 When the whole arm is paralyzed, nerves must be diverted from the ribs and children must learn how to activate their arm by coughing or whistling. Sumathi Reddy, WSJ, "Another Burst of Polio-Like Cases in Children Alarms Doctors," 5 Nov. 2018 One report by the Reuters news agency noted that more than 80 oil tankers were anchored off Venezuelan territorial waters at one point, waiting to load, after fears of new ConocoPhillips legal moves paralyzed PDVSA oil sales. Antonio Maria Delgado, miamiherald, "Venezuelans are starving, but the country still sends crude to Cuba," 11 July 2018 The injury broke a leg, required the removal of two ribs and left permanent nerve damage in her rear end, paralyzing her tail. Hillary Davis,, "Coming to the rescue: Newport resident’s dog food company starts nonprofit to get homeless dogs veterinary care," 7 July 2018 But his career came to an end after a severe back injury, which reportedly left him paralyzed for two weeks. Justin Sayers, The Courier-Journal, "Who are the most famous college sports fans in Kentucky?," 20 June 2018 She is paralyzed on her left side, the terrible result of a stab wound in the neck. Maria L. La Ganga, idahostatesman, "She's 6, 'a bright, happy little girl.' Stabbed in Boise. Her brother and mother too.," 2 July 2018 Don’t let yourself feel paralyzed by the possibility. Bess Matassa, Teen Vogue, "Weekly Horoscopes July 2-8," 29 June 2018 The Panthers’ third-round pick broke his neck in 2015 and was nearly paralyzed. Mike Persak,, "Panthers' Logan Hutsko flashes skill in development camp scrimmage," 29 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.

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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

14 Nov 2018

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 \
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

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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

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playful or foolish behavior

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