[ puh-ral-uh-sis ]
See synonyms for paralysis on
noun,plural pa·ral·y·ses [puh-ral-uh-seez]. /pəˈræl əˌsiz/.
  1. Pathology.

    • a loss or impairment of voluntary movement in a body part, caused by injury or disease of the nerves, brain, or spinal cord.

    • a disease characterized by this, especially palsy.

  2. a state of helpless stoppage, inactivity, or inability to act: The strike caused a paralysis of all shipping.

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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

Other words from paralysis

  • non·pa·ral·y·sis, noun, plural non·pa·ral·y·ses.
  • sem·i·pa·ral·y·sis, noun, plural sem·i·pa·ral·y·ses.

Words Nearby paralysis Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023

How to use paralysis in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for paralysis


/ (pəˈrælɪsɪs) /

nounplural -ses (-ˌsiːz)
  1. pathol

    • 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

    • a disease characterized by such impairment or loss; palsy

  2. cessation or impairment of activity: paralysis of industry by strikes

Origin of paralysis

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

Scientific definitions for paralysis


[ pə-rălĭ-sĭs ]

  1. 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 © 2011. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.

Cultural definitions for 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 Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.