There is the unfortunate medical condition of just appearing to be dead, and some times the condition had fatal consequences. What is the English expression for the condition.

2 Answers 2


This condition is called catalepsy.

Catalepsy is a medical condition in which one appears to be dead but actually not dead. Even doctors may not identify the condition whether the patient is dead or alive. They think that the person is dead.

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    – Nigel J
    Nov 23, 2019 at 22:25
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    @NigelJ When I tidy links, I like to remove unnecessary fields, like "referrer=" here. Nov 25, 2019 at 19:24

Catalepsy is incorrect. The condition described in NOT catalepsy nor catatonia, neither of which mimic clinical death.

The condition described is Locked-In Syndrome, in which the only apparent sign of life is eye blinking, but sometimes not even that.


  • 1
    There sadly appear to be more than one condition/s where a living patient may be wrongly identified as being dead, even by doctors. The one you mention is even harder to spot. Nov 25, 2019 at 19:26
  • Catatonia is a psychological condition. Catalepsy is a physical condition.
    – Nigel J
    Nov 25, 2019 at 19:53
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    Edwin, "harder to spot," suggests even more likely to be mistaken for a corpse, and I should say that next to being a corpse, being mistaken for one is the deadliest, not to mention the most embarrassing state to be in. Since no word seems to meet the OP's exact criterion, we have the chance to make a new contribution to the medical lexicon: pseudoptoma.
    – JMR
    Nov 25, 2019 at 21:09
  • It is interesting that there is not a term which exactly corresponds with what I asked for, as the phenomenon is well attested from history. Some legislations as in Norway at the end of the nineteenth century even took precautions to postpone burial till after 72 hours had elapsed.
    – Sapiens
    Nov 26, 2019 at 2:15

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