para·​sym·​pa·​thet·​ic | \ ˌper-ə-ˌsim-pə-ˈthe-tik How to pronounce parasympathetic (audio) , ˌpa-rə- \

Definition of parasympathetic

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: of, relating to, being, or acting on the parasympathetic nervous system



Definition of parasympathetic (Entry 2 of 2)

1 : a parasympathetic nerve

Examples of parasympathetic in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective The insula regulates the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems, which control the fight-or-flight response and relax the body, respectively. Kristen Rogers, CNN, "Empathy is both a trait and a skill. Here's how to strengthen it," 24 June 2020 The central nervous system is in communication with the gut via the sympathetic and parasympathetic branches of the autonomic nervous system, the involuntary arm of the nervous system that controls heart rate, breathing, and digestion. Justin Sonnenburg, Scientific American, "Gut Feelings–the "Second Brain" in Our Gastrointestinal Systems [Excerpt]," 1 May 2015 Less sympathetic nervous system drive equals less stress, while more parasympathetic activity leads to a state of calm, which is central to yoga practice. Kristen Rogers, CNN, "Struggling with migraines? This specific yoga routine can help, study says," 6 May 2020 Extending your inhale and exhale helps drop your body into parasympathetic mode, meaning your anxious fight-or-flight impulses become reduced. Laird Hamilton, Outside Online, "Laird Hamilton's Tips for Maximizing Your Rest Days," 4 Aug. 2019 Some research has suggested a role for parasympathetic nerves, which counteract sympathetic signals to return the body to rest, and for sensory nerves, which relay various stimuli to the brain. Kelly Servick, Science | AAAS, "How the body’s nerves become accomplices in the spread of cancer," 12 Sep. 2019 The parasympathetic functions are often characterized as rest-and-digest. Anne R. Crecelius, The Conversation, "Why do people faint?," 20 June 2019 The body reflexively compensates by increasing parasympathetic activity to slow the heart rate back toward normal. Anne R. Crecelius, The Conversation, "Why do people faint?," 20 June 2019 The parasympathetic system’s weird—that’s what the gas revs up. Nisi Shawl, Slate Magazine, "“Slippernet”," 22 Feb. 2017 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun Those two arms are the parasympathetic and the sympathetic nervous systems, says Lawrence Creswell, a cardiac surgeon in Jackson, Miss., who studies sports cardiology. Charles Wallace, WSJ, "What’s Your Heart-Rate Variability? It May Be Time to Find Out," 25 June 2017

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'parasympathetic.' 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 parasympathetic


1905, in the meaning defined above


1916, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for parasympathetic


International Scientific Vocabulary

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Time Traveler for parasympathetic

Time Traveler

The first known use of parasympathetic was in 1905

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Statistics for parasympathetic

Last Updated

28 Jun 2020

Cite this Entry

“Parasympathetic.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 8 Jul. 2020.

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More Definitions for parasympathetic


para·​sym·​pa·​thet·​ic | \ ˌpar-ə-ˌsim-pə-ˈthet-ik How to pronounce parasympathetic (audio) \

Medical Definition of parasympathetic

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: of, relating to, being, or acting on the parasympathetic nervous system parasympathetic fibers of the vascular wall parasympathetic drugs



Medical Definition of parasympathetic (Entry 2 of 2)

1 : a parasympathetic nerve this sacral group of parasympathetics supplies fibers to the external genitalia— A. C. Guyton

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