- Pathology. a condition characterized by sudden, brief attacks of muscle weakness sometimes causing the body to fall helplessly, that is usually triggered by strong emotion: often associated with narcolepsy.
- sudden temporary paralysis, brought on by severe shock
- a state of complete absence of movement assumed by animals while shamming death
“the state of an animal when it is feigning death,” 1883, from German kataplexie, from Greek kataplexis “stupefaction, amazement, consternation,” from kataplessein “to strike down” (with fear, etc.), from kata- “down” (see cata-) + plessein “to strike, hit,” from PIE *plak- (2) “to strike” (see plague (n.)). Related: Cataplectic.
- A sudden loss of muscle tone and strength, usually caused by an intense emotional stimulus.