paralyze

Use the verb paralyze to describe something that makes it impossible to move or function, like a snowstorm that threatens to paralyze a city.

Accent the first syllable in paralyze: "PA-ruh-lies." Until 1805, the only way to paralyze someone was physically — the word was used to indicate that a person had lost the ability to move their body, often as a result of an accident of illness. More recently, the definition has widened to include figurative uses like being "paralyzed by fear." It doesn't mean you are literally immobilized — just that you are so scared, it feels that way.

Definitions of paralyze
  1. verb
    cause to be paralyzed and immobile
    “The poison paralyzed him”
    “Fear paralyzed her”
    synonyms: paralyse
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    types:
    palsy
    affect with palsy
    type of:
    immobilise, immobilize
    cause to be unable to move
  2. verb
    make powerless and unable to function
    “The bureaucracy paralyzes the entire operation”
    synonyms: paralyse
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    type of:
    deactivate, inactivate
    make inactive
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