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1[mass noun] A mild form of epilepsy characterized by brief spells of unconsciousness without loss of posture.Compare with grand mal
- ‘The terms seizure and convulsion include grand mal, petit mal, absence, myoclonic, tonic-clonic, and focal motor seizures and signs.’
- ‘Doctors dispelled the depression as an extensive form of epilepsy, petit mal.’
- ‘This led in particular to a more detailed differentiation and classification of epilepsy, including terms still in use today, such as grand mal, petit mal, absence seizures, and status epilepticus.’
- ‘Nocturnal seizures can be grand mal, petit mal, partial-complex, vegetative or paroxysmal nocturnal dystonias.’
- ‘Epilepsy is called grand mal (major illness) or petit mal also called absence attacks.’
- 1.1[count noun] A petit mal epileptic fit:‘he wasn't out of his petit mal yet’
- ‘A is epileptic; he had daily petit mal seizures as a child which would case memory loss, so he is an unreliable witness.’
- ‘On seeing it, I thought that it might have been a petit mal epileptic seizure, but the reports seem to rule that out.’
- ‘I can see some spark of petit mal beginning in those snuffles over there.’
- ‘I myself had pediatric petit mal epilepsy (It cleared as I went through puberty), and when I had my first long lasting seizure it was actually pretty undramatic.’
- ‘We're not too sure whether James had a petit mal seizure, (he suffers from epilepsy), on the bus on the way home from his post school option program.’
Late 19th century: from French, literally little sickness.
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