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A condition in which the person affected, usually a child, is unable to control various voluntary body movements that require skill; an older name for it is clumsy child syndrome. Though dyspraxia has been used in the medical literature for many years (the British Dyspraxia Trust, for example, was formed in 1987), it has only recently begun to be used outside this specialist field but now shows signs of becoming a vogue word in Britain, as dyslexia did before it. A particular form of the condition is Developmental Verbal Dyspraxia or DVD, in which a child is unable to control the muscles of the mouth and so cannot articulate words correctly. The problem is known not to be due to paralysis or nerve damage and seems to be a failure to interpret messages from the brain correctly. There is a technical difference between this term and apraxia but the two are often used interchangeably. The word is derived from the Greek negative prefix dys and the Greek word praxia, “action”. The adjective is dyspraxic.

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Copyright © Michael Quinion, 1996–. All rights reserved.
Page created 26 Oct. 1996

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The English language is forever changing. New words appear; old ones fall out of use or alter their meanings. World Wide Words tries to record at least a part of this shifting wordscape by featuring new words, word histories, words in the news, and the curiosities of native English speech.

World Wide Words is copyright © Michael Quinion, 1996–. All rights reserved.
This page URL: http://www.worldwidewords.org/turnsofphrase/tp-dys1.htm
Last modified: 26 October 1996.