petit mal


pe·​tit mal ˈpe-tē-ˌmal How to pronounce petit mal (audio)
: epilepsy characterized by mild seizures marked by diminished awareness usually with a blank stare but not by loss of consciousness
also : one of these seizures compare grand mal

Examples of petit mal in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web The spike-wave pattern of petit mal, referenced earlier, is a classic example, but scores of others are now known. Giridhar Kalamangalam, Discover Magazine, 4 Apr. 2024

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'petit mal.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


French, literally, small illness

First Known Use

1874, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of petit mal was in 1874

Dictionary Entries Near petit mal

Cite this Entry

“Petit mal.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 22 Apr. 2024.

Medical Definition

petit mal

pe·​tit mal ˈpet-ē-ˌmal How to pronounce petit mal (audio) -ˌmäl How to pronounce petit mal (audio)
or petit mal epilepsy : epilepsy characterized by absence seizures : absence epilepsy
or petit mal seizure : absence seizure
Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
Love words? Need even more definitions?

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