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[kat-uh-plek-see] /ˈkæt əˌplɛk si/
Pathology. a condition characterized by sudden, brief attacks of muscle weakness sometimes causing the body to fall helplessly, that is usually triggered by strong emotion: often associated with narcolepsy.
Origin of cataplexy
1880-85; < German Kataplexie < Greek katáplēxis (with suffix probably by analogy with Apoplexie apoplexy) fixation (of the eyes), equivalent to kataplēk- (variant stem of kataplḗssein to strike down) + -sis -sis
Related forms
[kat-uh-plek-tik] /ˌkæt əˈplɛk tɪk/ (Show IPA),
adjective Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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British Dictionary definitions for cataplexy


sudden temporary paralysis, brought on by severe shock
a state of complete absence of movement assumed by animals while shamming death
Derived Forms
cataplectic, adjective
Word Origin
C19: from Greek kataplēxis amazement, from kataplēssein to strike down (with amazement), confound, from kata- down + plēssein to strike
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 cataplexy

"the state of an animal when it is feigning death," 1883, from German kataplexie, from Greek kataplexis "stupefaction, amazement, consternation," from kataplessein "to strike down" (with fear, etc.), from kata- "down" (see cata-) + plessein "to strike, hit," from PIE *plak- (2) "to strike" (see plague (n.)). Related: Cataplectic.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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cataplexy in Medicine

cataplexy cat·a·plex·y (kāt'ə-plěk'sē)
A sudden loss of muscle tone and strength, usually caused by an intense emotional stimulus.

cat'a·plec'tic (-plěk'tĭk) 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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