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or catalepsis

[kat-l-ep-see] /ˈkæt lˌɛp si/
noun, Pathology, Psychiatry.
a physical condition usually associated with catatonic schizophrenia, characterized by suspension of sensation, muscular rigidity, fixity of posture, and often by loss of contact with environment.
Origin of catalepsy
1350-1400; < Medieval Latin catalēpsia, variant of Late Latin catalēpsis < Greek katálēpsis seizure (akin to katalambánein to hold down), equivalent to kata- cata- + lêpsis a grasping (lēp-, variant stem of lambánein to grasp + -sis -sis); replacing Middle English cathalempsia < Medieval Latin
Related forms
cataleptic, adjective, noun
cataleptically, adverb Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2017.
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Examples from the Web for cataleptic
Historical Examples
  • Won't the effect be similar to hypnosis whereby a man is reduced to a cataleptic state?

    The End of Time Wallace West
  • She was visited by no more ‘optical illusions’ or ‘cataleptic’ fits.

    Cruel As The Grave Mrs. Emma D. E. N. Southworth
  • Their weight seemed to require a sort of cataleptic state of the muscles of the jaw, to enable them to hold on.

  • Christina had been in a cataleptic fit, or had been shamming death.

    Curiosities of Olden Times S. Baring-Gould
  • Thus, if M. Janet clenched her fist in the cataleptic state, her arm began to deal blows, and her face assumed a look of anger.

    Real Ghost Stories William T. Stead
  • This lasted for about a week, and then she was, as the description says, "depressed and cataleptic."

    Benign Stupors August Hoch
  • No resistance, but cataleptic tendencies were still seen occasionally.

    Benign Stupors August Hoch
  • The most striking of these is still the cataleptic state, which they cause at will.

    Modern Magic Maximilian Schele de Vere
  • The figure sits and leans forward in the chair, straining and rigid, cataleptic with horror.

  • "cataleptic," said the professor, peering at him through his glasses.

    Double Trouble Herbert Quick
British Dictionary definitions for cataleptic


a state of prolonged rigid posture, occurring for example in schizophrenia or in hypnotic trances
Derived Forms
cataleptic, adjective
Word Origin
C16: from Medieval Latin catalēpsia, variant of Late Latin catalēpsis, from Greek katalēpsis, literally: a seizing, from katalambanein to hold down, from kata- down + lambanein to grasp
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for cataleptic

1680s, from Late Latin catalepticus, from Greek kataleptikos, from kataleptos (see catalepsy). The noun meaning "one affected by catalepsy" is from 1851.



late 14c., cathalempsia, from Medieval Latin catalepsia, from Late Latin catalepsis, from Greek katalepsis "a seizure, a seizing upon, a taking possession," from kataleptos "seized," from katalambanein "to seize upon," from kata- "down" (see cata-) + lambanein "to take" (see analemma).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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cataleptic in Medicine

catalepsy cat·a·lep·sy (kāt'l-ěp'sē)
A condition that occurs in a variety of physical and psychological disorders and is characterized by lack of response to external stimuli and by muscular rigidity, so that the limbs remain in whatever position they are placed.

cat'a·lep'tic (kāt'l-ěp'tĭk) adj.
cat'a·lep'toid' adj.
The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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