1744, in medicine, "pertaining or relating to spasm; spasmodic," from Latin spasticus, from Greek spastikos "afflicted with spasms," also ""pulling in, slurping in;" etymologically "drawing, pulling, stretching," from span "to draw (a sword, etc.), pull out, pluck; tear away, drag; suck in; slurp down; contract violently" (see spasm (n.)).
The noun meaning "a person affected with spastic paralysis" is attested from 1896, used insultingly by 1960s. Related: Spastically; spasticity.
updated on June 15, 2022