AskDefine | Define apoplexy

Dictionary Definition

apoplexy n : a sudden loss of consciousness resulting when the rupture or occlusion of a blood vessel leads to oxygen lack in the brain [syn: stroke, cerebrovascular accident, CVA]

User Contributed Dictionary



Old English poplexye, LL. poplexia, apoplexia, from Gr. ἀποπληξία (apoplēxia), from ἀποπλήσσειν (apoplēssein) to cripple by a stroke; ἀπό (apo) from + πλήσσειν (plēssein) to strike: compare with French apoplexie. See Plague.


  • /ˈæp.əˌplɛ


  1. In the context of "medicine": Sudden diminution or loss of consciousness, sensation, and voluntary motion, usually caused by pressure on the brain.


loss of consciousness
  • German: Apoplexia, Apoplexie, Schlaganfall
  • Greek: αποπληξία (apoplixía)
  • Hebrew:

Usage notes

The term is now usually limited to cerebral apoplexy, or loss of consciousness due to effusion of blood or other lesion within the substance of the brain; but it is sometimes extended to denote an effusion of blood into the substance of any organ; as, apoplexy of the lung.

Related terms


Extensive Definition

Apoplexy is an old-fashioned medical term, which can be used to mean 'bleeding'. It can be used non-medically to mean a state of extreme rage. The word derives from the Greek word for 'seizure', apoplixia (ἀποπληξία), in the sense of being struck down.

Neurological impairment

Apoplexy has been used as a synonym for "stroke".

Historical meaning

Historically, the word "apoplexy" was also used to describe any sudden death that began with a sudden loss of consciousness, especially one where the victim died within a matter of seconds after losing consciousness. Those reading historical documents should take into consideration the possibility that the word "apoplexy" may be used to describe the symptom of sudden loss of consciousness immediately preceding death and not an actual verified disease process. Sudden cardiac deaths, ruptured cerebral aneurysms, certain ruptured aortic aneurysms, and even heart attacks may have been described as apoplexy in the distant past.


The term 'apoplexy' is used to describe bleeding within internal organs. In such usage it is coupled with an adjective describing the site of the bleeding. For example, bleeding within the pituitary gland is called pituitary apoplexy, and bleeding within the adrenal glands can be called adrenal apoplexy.
In both pituitary and adrenal apoplexy, the word apoplexy refers to both hemorrhage with the gland and to accompanying neurological problems such as confusion, headache, and impairment of consciousness.

Non-medical usage

Colloquially, particularly in the adjective form apoplectic, apoplexy means furious, enraged, or upset to the point of being unable to deal with a situation rationally or diplomatically.


apoplexy in Danish: Apopleksi
apoplexy in German: Apoplex
apoplexy in Spanish: Apoplejía
apoplexy in French: Apoplexie
apoplexy in Korean: 뇌졸중
apoplexy in Italian: Apoplessia
apoplexy in Portuguese: Apoplexia

Synonyms, Antonyms and Related Words

Jacksonian epilepsy, Rolandic epilepsy, abdominal epilepsy, access, acquired epilepsy, activated epilepsy, affect epilepsy, akinetic epilepsy, angina, angina pectoris, aortic insufficiency, aortic stenosis, apoplectic stroke, arrest, arrhythmia, arteriosclerosis, atherosclerosis, atrial fibrillation, attack, auricular fibrillation, autonomic epilepsy, beriberi heart, blockage, breakup, cardiac arrest, cardiac epilepsy, cardiac insufficiency, cardiac shock, cardiac stenosis, cardiac thrombosis, carditis, cataclysm, catalepsy, cataplexy, climax, clonic spasm, clonus, congenital heart disease, convulsion, cor biloculare, cor juvenum, cor triatriatum, coronary, coronary insufficiency, coronary thrombosis, cortical epilepsy, cramp, cursive epilepsy, diastolic hypertension, diastrophism, diplegia, disaster, diurnal epilepsy, eclampsia, encased heart, endocarditis, epilepsia, epilepsia gravior, epilepsia major, epilepsia minor, epilepsia mitior, epilepsia nutans, epilepsia tarda, epilepsy, epitasis, extrasystole, falling sickness, fatty heart, fibroid heart, fit, flask-shaped heart, focal epilepsy, frenzy, frosted heart, grand mal, grip, hairy heart, haute mal, heart attack, heart block, heart condition, heart disease, heart failure, hemiplegia, high blood pressure, hypertension, hypertensive heart disease, hysterical epilepsy, ictus, infantile paralysis, ischemic heart disease, larval epilepsy, laryngeal epilepsy, laryngospasm, latent epilepsy, lockjaw, matutinal epilepsy, menstrual epilepsy, mitral insufficiency, mitral stenosis, musicogenic epilepsy, myocardial infarction, myocardial insufficiency, myocarditis, myoclonous epilepsy, myovascular insufficiency, nocturnal epilepsy, occlusion, orgasm, overthrow, ox heart, palpitation, palsy, paralysis, paralytic stroke, paraplegia, paresis, paroxysm, paroxysmal tachycardia, pericarditis, petit mal, physiologic epilepsy, pile, polio, poliomyelitis, premature beat, pseudoaortic insufficiency, psychic epilepsy, psychomotor epilepsy, pulmonary insufficiency, pulmonary stenosis, quake, reflex epilepsy, rheumatic heart disease, rotatoria, round heart, sclerosis, seizure, sensory epilepsy, sensory paralysis, serial epilepsy, sexual climax, spasm, stony heart, stoppage, stroke, tachycardia, tardy epilepsy, temblor, tetanus, tetany, throes, thromboembolism, thrombosis, tidal wave, tonic epilepsy, tonic spasm, torsion spasm, traumatic epilepsy, tricuspid insufficiency, tricuspid stenosis, trismus, tsunami, turtle heart, ucinate epilepsy, upheaval, varicose veins, varix, ventricular fibrillation, visitation
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