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Epilepsy Glossary

Terms used to explain Epilepsy can sometimes be confusing. To help you fully understand the articles and features related to this very important health topic, we have compiled a glossary of terms that can help.

Absence Seizure

ab*sence seizure
Pronunciation: \ˈab-sən(t)s-\

Function: noun
: a nonconvulsive generalized seizure that is marked by the transient impairment or loss of consciousness usu. with a blank stare, that begins and ends abruptly and is usu. unremembered afterward, and that is seen chiefly in mild types of epilepsy —called also absence, petit mal


Pronunciation: \-ˌep-ə-ˈlep-tik\

Function: adjective
: tending to suppress or prevent epilepsy <antiepileptic[1] treatment>


Pronunciation: \ə-ˈtak-sē-ə, (ˈ)ā-\

Function: noun
: an inability to coordinate voluntary muscular movements that is symptomatic of some nervous disorders


Pronunciation: \o-ˈtäm-ə-ˌtiz-əm\

Function: noun

1: an automatic action; esp: any action performed without the doer's intention or awareness
2: the power or fact of moving or functioning without conscious control either independently of external stimulation (as in the beating of the heart) or more or less directly under the influence of external stimuli (as in the dilating or contracting of the pupil of the eye)


Pronunciation: \kən-ˈvəl-shən\

Function: noun
: an abnormal violent and involuntary contraction or series of contractions of the muscles often used in pl.<a patient suffering from convulsions>


Pronunciation: \i-ˈlek-ˌtrōd\

Function: noun
: a conductor used to establish electrical contact with a nonmetallic part of a circuit


Pronunciation: \ˈfeb-ˌrīl also ˈfēb-\

Function: adjective
: see: feverish

Focal Seizure

focal seizure
Function: noun
: see: partial seizure

Generalized Seizure

generalized seizure
Function: noun
: a seizure (as an absence seizure or tonic-clonic seizure) that originates in both cerebral hemispheres compare partial seizure


Pronunciation: \-ˌvent-əl-ˈā-shən\

Function: noun
: excessive ventilation; specif: excessive rate and depth of respiration leading to abnormal loss of carbon dioxide from the blood —called also overventilation

Lennox-Gastaut Syndrome

Len*nox–Gas*taut syndrome
Pronunciation: \ˈlen-əks-gas-ˈtō-\

Function: noun
: an epileptic syndrome esp. of young children that is marked by tonic, atonic, and myoclonic seizures and by atypical absence seizures, that is associated with mental retardation, that is prob. caused by various forms of brain damage (as from cerebral hemorrhage, encephalitis, or developmental or metabolic disorder), and that is characterized between seizures by an EEG having a slow spike and wave pattern

Parietal Lobe

parietal lobe
Function: noun
: the middle division of each cerebral hemisphere that is situated behind the central sulcus, above the sylvian fissure, and in front of the parieto-occipital sulcus and that contains an area concerned with bodily sensations


Pronunciation: \(ˈ)prō-ˈdrō-məl\

Function: adjective
: see: precursory; esp: of, relating to, or marked by prodromes <the prodromal stages of a disease>

Vagus Nerve

vagus nerve
Function: noun
: either of the tenth pair of cranial nerves that arise from the medulla and supply chiefly the viscera esp. with autonomic sensory and motor fibers —called also pneumogastric nerve, tenth cranial nerve, vagus

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© 2011 Merriam-Webster, Incorporated. Published under license with Merriam-Webster, Inc.

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Epilepsy affects as many people as multiple sclerosis, Parkinson's disease, and cerebral palsy combined. It creates an estimated $15.5 billion in medical costs and lost earnings and production each year.