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Palsy is a medical term which refers to various types of paralysis,[1] often accompanied by weakness and the loss of feeling and uncontrolled body movements such as shaking. The word originates from the Anglo-Norman paralisie, parleisie et al., from the accusative form of Latin paralysis, from Ancient Greek παράλυσις (parálusis), from παραλύειν (paralúein, “to disable on one side”), from παρά (pará, “beside”) + λύειν (lúein, “loosen”). The word is longstanding in the English language, having appeared in the play Grim the Collier of Croydon, reported to have been written as early as 1599:

Rob. I'll have thee come, I say. Why tremblest thou?

Grim. No sir, not I; 'tis a palsy I have still.[2]

In some editions, the Bible passage of Luke 5:18 is translated to refer to "a man which was taken with a palsy". More modern editions simply refer to a man who is paralyzed. Although the term has historically been associated with paralysis generally, "is now almost always used in connection to the word “cerebral”—meaning the brain".[1]

Specific kinds of palsy include:


  1. ^ a b Dan Agin, More Than Genes: What Science Can Tell Us About Toxic Chemicals, Development, and the Risk to Our Children;; (2009), p. 172.
  2. ^ Grim the Collier of Croydon, Act V., Sc. I.

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