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catatonic (comparative more catatonic, superlative most catatonic)

  1. (medicine) Of, relating to, or suffering from catatonia; having a tendency to remain in a rigid state of stupor for long periods which give way to short periods of extreme agitation.
    • 1967, unnamed doctor in 1967, Frederick Wiseman (director), Titicut Follies (documentary film), quoted in 2004, Jerrold R. Brandell (editor), Celluloid Couches, Cinematic Clients, page 118:
      However, he was looking a lot more catatonic and depressed before and sometimes we find that on the anti-depressants you remove the depression and uncover the paranoid stuff and we may have to give him larger quantities of tranquilizers just to tone this down.
    • 2006, David H. Brendel, Healing Psychiatry[1], page 119:
      It was plausible that Cara became more catatonic in order to avoid a painful and overwhelming confrontation with terrifying but repressed memories of child abuse.
  2. (figuratively) Motionless and unresponsive, as from shock; withdrawn.
    • 1961 November 10, Joseph Heller, “The Eternal City”, in Catch-22 [], New York, N.Y.: Simon and Schuster, →OCLC, page 428:
      He made Yossarian think of cripples and of cold and hungry men and women, and of all the dumb, passive, devout mothers with catatonic eyes nursing infants outdoors that same night with chilled animal udders bared insensibly to that same raw rain.
    • 2004, William Meninger, 1012 Monastery Road: A Spiritual Journey[2], page 19:
      Further and further he would withdraw from the world, becoming more and more catatonic — withdrawing completely from his hateful world to the only real and secure comfort he had ever known, the womb.
    • 2009, Nicole Chénier-Cullen, I Found My Thrill on Parliament Hill[3], page 37:
      The fact that he was not twirling his kiss curl underscored his catatonic state of mind. I didn't know who was more catatonic—Brentwood, the minister, or myself.
    • 2011, T. F. Bohn, Dirty Jerry: Faith In the Real World[4], page 64:
      A very young Ensign, in his first real contact with combat conditions, was in charge but was almost of no use as he began to hyper-ventilate and became more and more catatonic the closer they got to shore.



catatonic (plural catatonics)

  1. (medicine) A patient in a state of catatonia.
    • 1953, Canadian Journal of Psychology: Revue Canadienne de Psychologie, volume 7, page 120:
      An inspection of Table IV shows that the catatonics have the lowest mean reversal score of all the groups.
    • 1973, Oliver Sacks, Awakenings, unnumbered page:
      I thought of children released from school; I thought of spring-awakenings after winter-sleeps; I thought of the Sleeping Beauty; and I also thought, with some foreboding, of catatonics, suddenly frenzied.
    • 1991, Dean Turner, Escape from God: The Use of Religion and Philosophy to Evade Responsibility[5], page 92:
      All outward signs suggest that catatonics have ceased being subjects by virtue of having transformed themselves into veritable objects.




Borrowed from French catatonique. By surface analysis, catatonie +‎ -ic.


catatonic m or n (feminine singular catatonică, masculine plural catatonici, feminine and neuter plural catatonice)

  1. (medicine) catatonic