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[puh-ral-uh-sis] /pəˈræl ə sɪs/
noun, plural paralyses
[puh-ral-uh-seez] /pəˈræl əˌsiz/ (Show IPA)
  1. a loss or impairment of voluntary movement in a body part, caused by injury or disease of the nerves, brain, or spinal cord.
  2. a disease characterized by this, especially palsy.
a state of helpless stoppage, inactivity, or inability to act:
The strike caused a paralysis of all shipping.
Origin of paralysis
before 1150; < Latin < Greek parálysis, equivalent to paraly-, var stem of paralȳ́ein to loosen (i.e., disable) on one side (para- para-1 + lȳ́ein to loosen) + -sis -sis; replacing Middle English paralisi(e) < Old French < Latin, as above; replacing late Old English paralisin (accusative) < Latin, as above; cf. palsy1
Related forms
nonparalysis, noun, plural nonparalyses.
semiparalysis, noun, plural semiparalyses.


[par-uh-lahyz] /ˈpær əˌlaɪz/
verb (used with object), paralyzed, paralyzing.
to affect with paralysis.
to bring to a condition of helpless stoppage, inactivity, or inability to act:
The strike paralyzed communications.
Also, especially British, paralyse.
1795-1805; back formation from paralysis, modeled on analyze
Related forms
paralyzant, adjective, noun
paralyzation, noun
paralyzer, noun
paralyzingly, adverb
semiparalyzed, adjective
unparalyzed, adjective
2. See shock1 . Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for paralyses
Historical Examples
  • He was corroded by suspicion, and this paralyses able servants.

  • We can only get up provisions from day to day—which paralyses our operations.

    Recollections and Letters of General Robert E. Lee (His Son) Captain Robert E. Lee
  • In this country the expected always happens, which paralyses the brain.

    The Belovd Vagabond William J. Locke
  • There are paralyses that affect the sight; others that affect the mind.

    Conscience, Complete Hector Malot
  • She shudders when she even thinks of him, and the sight of him is a horror that paralyses her.

    Kophetua the Thirteenth Julian Corbett
  • To one and all came the realization of that panic fear which dislocates and paralyses.

    The Bright Messenger Algernon Blackwood
  • It paralyses the will, stultifies the reason, and stifles every holy emotion in the soul.

  • In every city and in every village there is a class of women, the thought of whom paralyses the mind.

    Windy McPherson's Son Sherwood Anderson
  • The priesthood accepted the depreciation which depresses and paralyses the will.

    The Priestly Vocation Bishop Bernard Ward
  • They have sometimes been spoken of as hysterical palsies or paralyses.

    Psychotherapy James J. Walsh
British Dictionary definitions for paralyses


noun (pl) -ses (-ˌsiːz)
  1. impairment or loss of voluntary muscle function or of sensation (sensory paralysis) in a part or area of the body, usually caused by a lesion or disorder of the muscles or the nerves supplying them
  2. a disease characterized by such impairment or loss; palsy
cessation or impairment of activity: paralysis of industry by strikes
Word Origin
C16: via Latin from Greek paralusis; see para-1, -lysis
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 paralyses



1804, from French paralyser (16c.), from Old French paralisie "paralysis," from Latin paralysis (see paralysis). Figurative use from 1805. Related: Paralyzed; paralyzing.



1520s, from Latin paralysis, from Greek paralysis "paralysis, palsy," literally "loosening," from paralyein "disable, enfeeble," from para- "beside" (see para- (1)) + lyein "loosen, untie" (see lose).

Figurative use from 1813. Earlier form was paralysie (late 14c., see palsy). Old English equivalent was lyft adl (see left (adj.)) or crypelnes "crippleness."

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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paralyses in Medicine

paralysis pa·ral·y·sis (pə-rāl'ĭ-sĭs)
n. pl. pa·ral·y·ses (-sēz')

  1. Loss of power of voluntary movement in a muscle through injury or through disease of its nerve supply.

  2. Loss of sensation over a region of the body.

paralyze par·a·lyze (pār'ə-līz')
v. par·a·lyzed, par·a·lyz·ing, par·a·lyz·es
To affect with paralysis; cause to be paralytic.

The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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paralyses in Science
Loss or impairment of voluntary movement or sensation in a part of the body, usually as a result of neurologic injury or disease.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary
Copyright © 2002. Published by Houghton Mifflin. All rights reserved.
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paralyses in Culture
paralysis [(puh-ral-uh-sis)]

The loss of voluntary movement in a body part. Paralysis results from damage to the nerves that supply the affected part of the body.

The New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition
Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Company.
Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.
Cite This Source

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