Definition of palsy in English:



  • 1[mass noun] Paralysis, especially that which is accompanied by involuntary tremors.

    ‘a kind of palsy had seized him’
    • ‘As the infection spreads in the temporal bone, it may extend into the cranium and result in cranial nerve palsies.’
    • ‘The most common manifestation in children is erythema migrans rash followed by arthritis, facial nerve palsy, aseptic meningitis, and carditis.’
    • ‘Other patients may present with fractures, bone pain, cranial nerve palsies and osteomyelitis.’
    • ‘The presentation may be of an unexplained mass or cranial nerve palsies, meningeal symptoms, or even respiratory problems caused by brainstem infiltration.’
    • ‘The paralysis or palsy may affect mainly the legs, or all four limbs, or just one side of the body.’
    immobility, powerlessness, lack of sensation, numbness, deadness, incapacity, debilitation
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1archaic A condition of incapacity or helplessness.
      ‘is the calmness of philosophy, or the palsy of insensibility, to be looked for?’
      • ‘When it is considered into what consternation the bystanders must have been thrown, rendering them, by the palsy of fear, incapable of assisting Lazarus in his struggles to free himself from the folds in which he was wrapped, the sublime self-possession of Jesus appears.’


  • Affect with paralysis and involuntary tremors.

    ‘she feels as if the muscles on her face are palsied’
    figurative ‘the old boy network laid its palsied hand upon the business of wealth creation’
    • ‘Yes, there was a lot of chest and back scratching and thumping, and palsied flinging about of the hands and arms.’
    • ‘Padlin looked at Waddley, amazed at the infantile terror palsying his features.’
    • ‘Away with palsied, powerless preaching which is unmoving because it was born in a tomb instead of a womb and nourished in a fireless, prayer less soul.’
    • ‘The guileless McKenzie is of course immune, as he blunders through a palsied old world.’
    • ‘It's a tough assignment, one that could serve as a test case for much-needed reform in South Korea's palsied industrial sector.’
    • ‘I had seen this banal horror before in a much-loved grandfather, dead before his time, a palsied victim of Parkinson's.’
    • ‘The U.S. intelligence community is palsied by lawyers.’
    • ‘Comedy is forever young and sees the palsied old from without; tragedy does not normally deal with anything so mundane or inescapable as the decay of the mind.’
    • ‘And this, with the Greens' propensity for error that increased in direct proportion to their frustration with their own palsied lack of penetration, was just enough to edge the game.’
    • ‘Just the same, her role is the showy one - a crippled up, palsied, intimidating patient in a care home for the elderly.’
    • ‘It coursed up his spine and palsied his drawing hand.’
    • ‘John Paul's pain-racked, palsied old body is wheeled about on casters, his voice a shadow of its old, booming self.’
    • ‘Albertson exaggerates the palsied contortions of his figures, imbuing them with a curious pathos.’
    • ‘His voice had a tremor in it too, words passing out over palsied lips.’


Middle English: from Old French paralisie, from an alteration of Latin paralysis (see paralysis).