Apoplexy is a medical term, which can be used to describe 'bleeding' in a stroke (formerly described as a cerebrovascular accident). Without further specification, it is rather outdated in use. Today it is used only for specific conditions, such as pituitary apoplexy and ovarian apoplexy. In common speech, it is used non-medically to mean a state of extreme rage or excitement. The word derives from the Greek word apoplēxia (ἀποπληξία) meaning "a striking (or hitting) away".


Neurological impairment

Apoplexy formerly was used for what is now termed stroke.[1]

Historical meaning

From the late 14th to the late 19th century[2], the word "apoplexy" was also used to describe any sudden death that began with a sudden loss of consciousness, especially one in which the victim died within a matter of seconds after losing consciousness. The word "apoplexy" may have been used to describe the symptom of sudden loss of consciousness immediately preceding death and not a 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 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.

Deaths attributed to apoplexy

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.

See also


  1. ^ Apoplexy at MedicineNet.com.
  2. ^ OED Online, 2010, Oxford University Press. 7 February 2011
  3. ^ The New York Times, January 26, 1947: "Capone Dead at 48". The New York Times. January 26, 1947. http://www.nytimes.com/learning/general/onthisday/bday/0117.html. Retrieved October 12, 2010. 
  4. ^ The New York Times, November 20, 1908: "Dowager Empress died of Apoplexy". The New York Times. November 20, 1908. http://query.nytimes.com/gst/abstract.html?res=9C05E5DA1739E333A25753C2A9679D946997D6CF. Retrieved April 25, 2010. 
  5. ^ "Leonhard Euler (1707 - 1783)". http://www.maths.tcd.ie/pub/HistMath/People/Euler/RouseBall/RB_Euler.html. 
  6. ^ Mein Kampf by Adolf Hitler, 4%
  7. ^ http://www.btinternet.com/~allan_raymond/Roumanian_Royal_Family.htm
  8. ^ The New York Times, February 19, 1915: "H. Ward Leonard Dies -Electrical Inventor Stricken". The New York Times. http://query.nytimes.com/mem/archivefree/pdf_r=1&res=950CE6DD1238E633A2575AC1A9649C946496D6CF&oref=slogin. 
  9. ^ a b Ferguson Nisbet, John. The Insanity of Genius and the General Inequality of Human Faculty. Elibron Classics. ISBN 1421272997. 
  10. ^ St. Hilaire, "Military Household of the Emperor." Sixth Book, 1806. Napoleon Series. Robert Burnham, editor in chief. September 2005. Accessed 18 May 2010. (French) Mullié Charles. "Michel Ordener." Biographie des célébrités militaires des armées de terre et de mer de 1789 à 1850, Paris, 1852.
  11. ^ The New York Times, December 18, 1894: "Death of R.L. Stevenson". The New York Times. http://www.nytimes.com/learning/general/onthisday/bday/1113.html. Retrieved April 25, 2010. 

External links

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Look at other dictionaries:

  • Apoplexy — Ap o*plex y ([a^]p [ o]*pl[e^]ks [y^]), n. [OE. poplexye, LL. poplexia, apoplexia, fr. Gr. apoplhxi a, fr. apoplh ssein to cripple by a stroke; apo from + plh ssein to strike: cf. F. apoplexie. See {Plague}.] (Med.) Sudden diminution or loss of… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • apoplexy — (n.) late 14c., sudden fit of paralysis and dizziness, from O.Fr. apoplexie or directly from L.L. apoplexia, from Gk. apoplexia, from apoplessein to strike down and incapacitate, from apo off (see APO (Cf. apo )), in this case probably an… …   Etymology dictionary

  • apoplexy — [n] loss of consciousness from blockage in vein or artery occlusion, seizure, stroke, thrombosis; concepts 316,720 Ant. consciousness …   New thesaurus

  • apoplexy — ► NOUN (pl. apoplexies) 1) dated unconsciousness or incapacity resulting from a cerebral haemorrhage or stroke. 2) informal extreme anger. ORIGIN Greek apoplexia, from apopl ssein disable by a stroke …   English terms dictionary

  • apoplexy — [ap′ə plek΄sē] n. [ME & OFr apoplexie < LL apoplexia < Gr apoplēxia < apoplēssein, to strike down, disable by a stroke < apo , from + plēssein, to strike < IE base * plāg > PLAGUE] 1. Old fashioned a cerebral accident or stroke… …   English World dictionary

  • Apoplexy — A venerable term for a stroke, a cerebrovascular accident (CVA), often associated with loss of consciousness and paralysis of various parts of the body. The word apoplexy comes from the Greek apoplexia meaning a seizure, in the sense of being… …   Medical dictionary

  • apoplexy — [[t]æ̱pəpleksi[/t]] 1) N UNCOUNT Apoplexy is a heart attack. [OLD FASHIONED] 2) N UNCOUNT Apoplexy is extreme anger. [FORMAL] He has already caused apoplexy with his books on class and on war …   English dictionary

  • apoplexy —   n. stroke or seizure due to thrombosis or rupture of brain artery.    ♦ apoplectic, a. pertaining to, like or symptomatic of apoplexy …   Dictionary of difficult words

  • apoplexy — noun Etymology: Middle English apoplexie, from Middle French & Late Latin; Middle French, from Late Latin apoplexia, from Greek apoplēxia, from apoplēssein to cripple by a stroke, from apo + plēssein to strike more at plaint Date: 15th century… …   New Collegiate Dictionary

  • apoplexy — apoplectiform /ap euh plek teuh fawrm /, apoplectoid, adj. /ap euh plek see/, n. Pathol. 1. stroke (def. 6). 2. a sudden, usually marked loss of bodily function due to rupture or occlusion of a blood vessel. 3. a hemorrhage into an organ cavity… …   Universalium

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