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From French aphasie, from Ancient Greek ἀφασία (aphasía), from ἄφατος (áphatos, speechless), from ἀ- (a-, not) + φάσις (phásis, speech). Equivalent to a- +‎ -phasia.


  • IPA(key): /əˈfeɪzɪə/, /əˈfeɪʒə/


aphasia (countable and uncountable, plural aphasias)

  1. (pathology) A partial or total loss of language skills due to brain damage. Usually, damage to the left perisylvian region, including Broca's area and Wernicke's area, causes aphasia.
    • 1865, J. T. Banks, “On the Loss of Language in Cerebral Disease”, in Dublin quarterly journal of medical[1], volume 39:
      The venerable age of the term alalia has not been respected, so it was displaced by aphemia, which seems as if it were doomed to share the same fate, and to give way to aphesia, the word now adopted by Professor Trousseau, on the recommendation of M. Chrysaphis, a Greek by birth, and an eminent scholar. We now meet these three words "alalie," "aphemie," and "aphasie," used indifferently by French writers. To these may be aded a fourth―"amnesie verbale." Of one form of aphasia we have an accurate description by Van Swieten, in his chapter on apoplexia:―"Vidi plures, qui ab apoplexiâ curati omnibus functionibus cerebri recte valebant, nisi quod deesset, hoc unicum, quod non possent vera rebus designandis vocabula invenire."
    • 1888, Rudyard Kipling, "The Conversion of Aurelian McGoggin" in Plain Tales from the Hills, Folio 2005, p. 76:
      The Doctor came over in three minutes, and heard the story. ‘It's aphasia,’ he said.

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