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.

1880–85; < German Kataplexie < Greek katáplēxis (with suffix probably by analogy with Apoplexie apoplexy) fixation (of the eyes), equivalent to kataplēk- (variant stem of kataplḗssein to strike down) + -sis -sis

cataplectic [kat-uh-plek-tik] , adjective Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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World English Dictionary
cataplexy (ˈkætəˌplɛksɪ)
1.  sudden temporary paralysis, brought on by severe shock
2.  a state of complete absence of movement assumed by animals while shamming death
[C19: from Greek kataplēxis amazement, from kataplēssein to strike down (with amazement), confound, from kata- down + plēssein to strike]

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition
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Word Origin & History

"the state of an animal when it is feigning death," 1883, from Ger. kataplexie, from Gk. kataplexis "stupefaction," from kataplessein "to strike down" (with fear, etc.), from kata- "down" + plessein "to strike, hit."
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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American Heritage
Medical Dictionary

cataplexy cat·a·plex·y (kāt'ə-plěk'sē)
A sudden loss of muscle tone and strength, usually caused by an intense emotional stimulus.

cat'a·plec'tic (-plěk'tĭk) adj.
The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary
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