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Etymology 1[edit]

From Middle English palesie, from Anglo-Norman paralisie, parleisie et al., from Latin paralysis, from Ancient Greek παράλυσις (parálusis, palsy), from παραλύω (paralúō, to disable on one side), from παρα- (para-, beside) + λύω (lúō, loosen). Doublet of paralysis.


  • IPA(key): /ˈpɔːlzi/
    • (file)
  • Rhymes: -ɔːlzi


palsy (countable and uncountable, plural palsies)

  1. (pathology) Complete or partial muscle paralysis of a body part, often accompanied by a loss of feeling and uncontrolled body movements such as shaking.
    • c. 1620,, anonymous, “Tom o’ Bedlam’s Song” in Giles Earle his Booke (British Museum, Additional MSS. 24, 665):
      The palsie plagues my pulses
      when I prigg yoͬ: piggs or pullen
      your culuers take, or matchles make
      your Chanticleare or sullen
    • 1834, L[etitia] E[lizabeth] L[andon], chapter VIII, in Francesca Carrara. [], volume II, London: Richard Bentley, [], (successor to Henry Colburn), →OCLC, page 73:
      "Young lady, there is no hope; one side of the Duchesse is struck with palsy; she retains her senses, and will, most probably, to the last; but she cannot live through the night."
    • 1891, Sir Arthur Quiller-Couch, chapter 1, in The Blue Pavilions:
      "Ah! now we come to business! Barber, who's dead?"
      "Alderman Croten, sir."
      "Tut-tut. Croten gone?"
      "Yes, sir; palsy took him at a ripe age. And Abel's gone, the Town Crier;"
    • 1952, Norman Lewis, Golden Earth:
      Again we were stricken of our palsy, slowed down, re-accelerated, and there, at last, were the few huts of a hamlet, with the lorry, lying at an angle in the road's camber, outside a tea-shop.
    Synonym: paralysis
Alternative forms[edit]
Derived terms[edit]


palsy (third-person singular simple present palsies, present participle palsying, simple past and past participle palsied)

  1. To paralyse, either completely or partially.
    • 1831, William Lloyd Garrison, The Liberator, To The Public [1]
      In the month of August, I issued proposals for publishing "THE LIBERATOR" in Washington city; but the enterprise, though hailed in different sections of the country, was palsied by public indifference.
    • 1826, [Mary Shelley], chapter IX, in The Last Man. [], volume II, London: Henry Colburn, [], →OCLC:
      Its streets were blocked up with snow - the few passengers seemed palsied with snow, and frozen by the ungenial visitation of winter.

See also[edit]

Etymology 2[edit]

From pals +‎ -y.



palsy (comparative more palsy, superlative most palsy)

  1. (colloquial) Chummy, friendly.

Further reading[edit]