[ 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.


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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


cat·a·plec·tic [kat-uh-plek-tik] /ˌkæt əˈplɛk tɪk/, adjective Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2020

British Dictionary definitions for cataplexy

/ (ˈkætəˌplɛksɪ) /


sudden temporary paralysis, brought on by severe shock
a state of complete absence of movement assumed by animals while shamming death

Derived forms of cataplexy

cataplectic, adjective

Word Origin for cataplexy

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

Medical definitions for cataplexy

[ kătə-plĕk′sē ]


A sudden loss of muscle tone and strength, usually caused by an intense emotional stimulus.

Other words from cataplexy

cat′a•plectic (-plĕktĭk) adj.
The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.