Definition of grand mal in English:

grand mal


  • 1A serious form of epilepsy with muscle spasms and prolonged loss of consciousness.

    Compare with petit mal
    • ‘A person having a grand mal seizure usually loses consciousness (blacks out) and falls down.’
    • ‘Epilepsy is called grand mal (major illness) or petit mal also called absence attacks.’
    • ‘He reassured her that she would not develop the type of epilepsy called grand mal in which people lose conscious-ness.’
    • ‘In this kind of epilepsy, also known as grand mal epilepsy, nerve cells in both sides of the brain become overactive at the same time. Seizures usually last for about five minutes, and can be alarming.’
    • ‘At age 2 he had been diagnosed with grand mal epilepsy, which was controlled by medication.’
    • ‘Mysoline is used to treat grand mal, complex partial and focal seizures.’
    1. 1.1 A grand mal epileptic fit.
      • ‘And unless I actually have a grand mal, it's hard for so many people to understand exactly what epilepsy is.’
      • ‘I later heard someone in the game room had a grand mal seizure.’
      • ‘Early in January 1844, Flaubert experienced his first grand mal seizure.’
      • ‘Without warning she experienced a grand mal seizure followed by a profound behavioural change categorised as symptomatic of mania.’
      • ‘On 4th March, she had a grand mal epileptic fit lasting 3 ½ to 4 minutes, followed by another fit lasting 5 to 6 minutes and a third fit lasting 20 minutes.’
      • ‘After arriving in the building, I apparently had another grand mal in the lobby, though again, I don't remember, just the tell-tale signs of people staring.’
      • ‘Later that month, she had four grand mal seizures and was taken to the emergency department at the hospital.’
      • ‘Seven days after admission he had several grand mal seizures.’
      • ‘A friend from high school was diagnosed with epilepsy after having a grand mal seizure in a swimming pool when she was 12.’
      • ‘They are also called grand mal or major motor seizures.’
      • ‘Seizures - typically grand mal - may occur but are not always preceded by other symptoms.’
      • ‘She suffered from the most serious type of fitting - or grand mal - and they always struck at night while she slept.’


Late 19th century: from French, literally ‘great sickness’.