a pattern of neurotic behavior, usually induced by a startle, first discovered in Malaya, and characterized by the compulsive imitation of the actions and words of others.
Origin of latah
Borrowed into English from Malay around 1880–85
Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019
Examples from the Web for latah
Historical Examples of latah
More than one-half of the cereal crop in 1905 was produced in the prairie and plateau region of Nez Perce and Latah counties.
I'll go if you wish it; though I tell you again, you're backing the wrong man, and soonah or latah you'll discover it.
In point of fact, I don't mind telling yah, I back myself still for a couple of thou' soonah or latah to marry yah.
The sailor then throws the piece of wood on to the deck, and the latah promptly follows suit with the baby (Guinon).
I has plowed an' I has sowed, an' latah on I has laid cyahpets, an' I has whitewashed.
British Dictionary definitions for latah
a psychological condition, observed esp in Malaysian cultures, in which an individual, after experiencing a shock, becomes anxious and suggestible, often imitating the actions of another person
Word Origin for latah
C19: from Malay
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
A nervous disorder characterized by an exaggerated physical response to being startled or to unexpected suggestion.
The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary
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