Definition of catatonia in US English:



  • 1Abnormality of movement and behavior arising from a disturbed mental state (typically schizophrenia). It may involve repetitive or purposeless overactivity, or catalepsy, resistance to passive movement, and negativism.

    • ‘His last exposure prior to the recurrence was over a year prior to admission, during which time he had experienced multiple episodes of catatonia and visual hallucinations.’
    • ‘After several treatments, Jim emerges from catatonia and can engage in psychotherapy.’
    • ‘The discussion turned to the incidence of catatonia among patients admitted to academic psychiatric units previously reported in the literature.’
    • ‘We are dealing with life-shattering illnesses, such as melancholic depression, mania and catatonia.’
    • ‘Criteria for the diagnosis of catatonia independent of schizophrenia have been proposed for future classification systems.’
    1. 1.1informal A state of immobility and stupor.
      • ‘He's never been the most expressive of actors but here is deadpan to the point of catatonia at times.’
      • ‘Those who are still partying through the night are either gripped by the catatonia of the truly drunk or have talked their way back to sobriety and are curiously calm.’
      • ‘Europe is grinding to a halt and fears are mounting that Germany, the third largest economy in the world, accounting for 30% of total European output, is shaping up to be the next victim of economic catatonia.’
      • ‘No matter how good his material is, the audience wear him down with a mixture of catatonia and contempt.’
      • ‘They are weak, fractured, incoherent and ideologically timid to the point of catatonia.’
      • ‘This was a performance so static that it bordered on catatonia.’
      • ‘Caution threatened to descend into catatonia as, after a bright opening minute or so, the first half turned into a hash of misplaced passes, hoofs into the air and slithering ineptitude.’
      • ‘Finally, a nice young lady behind the counter is touched by the divine hand of healing and overcomes her catatonia long enough to notice that she ought to be running her register, and waves me over.’
      • ‘Awakening from catatonia and diving directly into high-decibel pleading, recriminations, and rants is no mean feat.’
      • ‘Boredom and walkouts are familiar reactions to performers, but this was a kind of catatonia: 900 people frozen in their seats, not reacting at all to what followed.’
      • ‘A sense of catatonia permeates the building as we pass through day rooms full of disturbed looking people suspicious of our presence, who occasionally engage us in bizarre conversation.’


Late 19th century: from cata- ‘badly’ + Greek tonos ‘tone or tension’.