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 his body, often as a result of an accident, disease, or condition. More recently, the definition has widened to include figurative uses like being "paralyzed by fear." It doesn't mean you are immobilized, just that you were so sacred, it felt that way.

Definitions of paralyze
1

v cause to be paralyzed and immobile

“The poison paralyzed him”
“Fear paralyzed her”
Synonyms:
paralyse
Types:
palsy
affect with palsy
Type of:
immobilise, immobilize
cause to be unable to move

v make powerless and unable to function

“The bureaucracy paralyzes the entire operation”
Synonyms:
paralyse
Type of:
deactivate, inactivate
make inactive

Sign up, it's free!

Whether you're a student, an educator, or a lifelong learner, Vocabulary.com can put you on the path to systematic vocabulary improvement.