Pathology. pertaining to, of the nature of, or characterized by spasm, especially tonic spasm.
Slang: Offensive. awkward or clumsy.


Pathology. a person exhibiting spasms.
Slang: Offensive. an awkward or clumsy person.

Origin of spastic

1745–55; < Latin spasticus afflicted with spasms < Greek spastikós of a spasm, equivalent to spas-, stem of spân to pull off, pluck, convulse + -tikos -tic
Related formsspas·ti·cal·ly, adverbspas·tic·i·ty [spa-stis-i-tee] /spæˈstɪs ɪ ti/, noun

Usage note

The slang use of spastic (or spaz ) to mean “clumsy” is perceived as insulting to people who are affected with muscular spasms. Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

British Dictionary definitions for spastic



an old-fashioned and now offensive name for a person who has cerebral palsy
taboo, slang a clumsy, incapable, or incompetent person


affected by or resembling spasms
taboo, slang clumsy, incapable or incompetent
Derived Formsspastically, adverbspasticity, noun See cerebral palsy

Word Origin for spastic

C18: from Latin spasticus, from Greek spastikos, from spasmos spasm
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 spastic

1753, from Latin spasticus, from Greek spastikos "afflicted with spasms," literally "drawing, pulling," from span "draw up" (see spasm). The noun meaning "a person affected with spastic paralysis" is attested from 1896.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

spastic in Medicine




Relating to or affected by spasm.
Relating to spastic paralysis.
The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.