[kat-uh-toh-nee-uh, -tohn-yuh]

noun Psychiatry.

a syndrome seen most frequently in schizophrenia, characterized by muscular rigidity and mental stupor, sometimes alternating with great excitement and confusion.

Origin of catatonia

First recorded in 1915–20; cata- + -tonia
Related formscat·a·to·ni·ac, nouncat·a·ton·ic [kat-uh-ton-ik] /ˌkæt əˈtɒn ɪk/, adjective, noun Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for catatonia

Historical Examples of catatonia

  • It is true that it is frequent in catatonia but is not exclusively there.

    Benign Stupors

    August Hoch

  • Taxonomic zeal began to blind vision when Kahlbaum formulated his "Catatonia" and included stupor in the symptom complex.

    Benign Stupors

    August Hoch

  • Fortunately Kahlbaum prevented serious error by leaving the prognosis of his catatonia open.

    Benign Stupors

    August Hoch

  • Then you can check your notes and decide if it's schizophrenia, or catatonia, or psychasthenia, or what not.

    A Thought For Tomorrow

    Robert E. Gilbert

British Dictionary definitions for catatonia



a state of muscular rigidity and stupor, sometimes found in schizophrenia
Derived Formscatatonic (ˌkætəˈtɒnɪk), adjective, noun

Word Origin for catatonia

C20: New Latin, from German Katatonie, from cata- + -tonia, from Greek tonos tension
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

Word Origin and History for catatonia

1888, from medical Latin catatonia; replacing katatonia (1880s), which was formed directly from Greek kata- "down" (see cata-) + tonos "tone" (see tenet).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

Medicine definitions for catatonia




An abnormal condition often associated with schizophrenia and variously characterized by stupor, stereotypy, mania, and either rigidity or extreme flexibility of the limbs.
Related formscat′a•tonic (-tŏnĭk) adj.
The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.