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 The accident broke 18 bones in her body, collapsed her lung and paralyzed her permanently from the waist down. Pam Kragen, San Diego Union-Tribune, "Wheelchair basketball star Megan Blunk shoots for the heights," 13 Oct. 2019 As a kid, Arielle Rausin had little interest in sports — even before the car accident that paralyzed her from the waist down at age 10. Lauren Zumbach,, "How a U. of I. grad’s invention led to a growing business — and a key piece of gear she’ll rely on when racing the Chicago Marathon," 10 Oct. 2019 Pendleton’s life took a turn after a 1983 car accident, which paralyzed her from the waist down. Georgia Slater,, "Karen Pendleton, Original Mickey Mouse Club Mouseketeer, Dies at 73," 8 Oct. 2019 In the present, Joker kidnaps and brutalizes Barbara Gordon (the daughter of Commissioner Jim Gordon and the current Batgirl), paralyzing her and torturing her, then taking lewd pictures of her to torment her father with. David Sims, The Atlantic, "The Comic That Explains Where Joker Went Wrong," 7 Oct. 2019 In 1983, she was involved in an automobile accident that paralyzed her from the waist down. Mike Barnes, The Hollywood Reporter, "Karen Pendleton, One of the Original Mouseketeers, Dies at 73," 7 Oct. 2019 The accident injured his spinal cord, paralyzing him from the chest down initially. Nancy Armour, USA TODAY, "Opinion: US gymnast Sunisa Lee finds herself balancing highs and lows at world championships," 6 Oct. 2019 Barbara reinvents herself as the Oracle after an encounter with the Joker paralyzes her from the waist down. Jennifer Ouellette, Ars Technica, "Life after the Joker: Harley Quinn finds a new gang in Birds of Prey trailer," 1 Oct. 2019 Rudd's resignation is the latest sign that Johnson's uncompromising approach to Brexit, an issue that has obsessed the country and paralyzed its politics, could break his party and threaten his tenuous hold on power. NBC News, "U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson under fire as Brexit reality hits," 8 Sep. 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

14 Nov 2019

Time Traveler for paralyze

The first known use of paralyze was in 1763

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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).


concealed or difficult to comprehend

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