Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • n. A condition characterized by lack of response to external stimuli and by muscular rigidity, so that the limbs remain in whatever position they are placed. It is known to occur in a variety of physical and psychological disorders, such as epilepsy and schizophrenia, and can be induced by hypnosis.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. severe bodily condition, described in psychiatric pathology, marked by sudden rigidity, fixation of posture, and loss of contact with environmental conditions

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. A sudden suspension of sensation and volition, the body and limbs preserving the position that may be given them, while the action of the heart and lungs continues.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. An affection, generally connected with hysteria, characterized by attacks resembling hysterical coma, with a peculiar muscular rigidity of the limbs; a similar abnormal state produced artificially in the healthy body in certain mesmeric states.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • n. a trancelike state with loss of voluntary motion and failure to react to stimuli

Etymologies

Middle English catalempsi, from Late Latin catalēmpsia, from Greek katalēpsis, from katalambanein, to seize upon : kata-, intensive pref.; see cata- + lambanein, lēp-, to seize.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
From cata- + -lepsy; ultimately from Ancient Greek κατάληψις (katalēpsis, "act of seizing"), from καταλαμβάνω (katalambanō, "I seize"), from κατά (kata, "against") + λαμβάνω (lambanō, "I take"). (Wiktionary)

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