Definition of grand mal in English:

grand mal

Pronunciation /ˌɡrand ˈmal/ /ˌɡrænd ˈmæl/ /ˌɡrän(d) ˈmäl/ /ˌɡrɑn(d) ˈmɑl/


  • 1A serious form of epilepsy with muscle spasms and prolonged loss of consciousness.

    Compare with petit mal

    ‘Epilepsy is called grand mal (major illness) or petit mal also called absence attacks.’
    • ‘In this kind of epilepsy, also known as grand mal epilepsy, nerve cells in both sides of the brain become overactive at the same time. Seizures usually last for about five minutes, and can be alarming.’
    • ‘He reassured her that she would not develop the type of epilepsy called grand mal in which people lose conscious-ness.’
    • ‘At age 2 he had been diagnosed with grand mal epilepsy, which was controlled by medication.’
    • ‘A person having a grand mal seizure usually loses consciousness (blacks out) and falls down.’
    • ‘Mysoline is used to treat grand mal, complex partial and focal seizures.’
    1. 1.1A grand mal epileptic fit.
      ‘On 4th March, she had a grand mal epileptic fit lasting 3 ½ to 4 minutes, followed by another fit lasting 5 to 6 minutes and a third fit lasting 20 minutes.’
      • ‘A friend from high school was diagnosed with epilepsy after having a grand mal seizure in a swimming pool when she was 12.’
      • ‘She suffered from the most serious type of fitting - or grand mal - and they always struck at night while she slept.’
      • ‘Later that month, she had four grand mal seizures and was taken to the emergency department at the hospital.’
      • ‘They are also called grand mal or major motor seizures.’
      • ‘Seizures - typically grand mal - may occur but are not always preceded by other symptoms.’
      • ‘Seven days after admission he had several grand mal seizures.’
      • ‘After arriving in the building, I apparently had another grand mal in the lobby, though again, I don't remember, just the tell-tale signs of people staring.’
      • ‘Early in January 1844, Flaubert experienced his first grand mal seizure.’
      • ‘And unless I actually have a grand mal, it's hard for so many people to understand exactly what epilepsy is.’
      • ‘Without warning she experienced a grand mal seizure followed by a profound behavioural change categorised as symptomatic of mania.’
      • ‘I later heard someone in the game room had a grand mal seizure.’


Late 19th century from French, literally ‘great sickness’.