from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition.

  • noun A psychological disorder characterized by chronic fatigue, weakness, and generalized aches and pains, formerly thought to result from exhaustion of the nervous system.

from The Century Dictionary.

  • noun In medicine, nervous debility; nervous exhaustion.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English.

  • noun (Med.) A condition of nervous debility supposed to be dependent upon impairment in the functions of the spinal cord.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License.

  • noun psychiatry An ill-defined medical condition characterized by lassitude, fatigue, headache, and irritability, associated chiefly with emotional disturbance.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • noun nervous breakdown (not in technical use)


Sorry, no etymologies found.


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  • While the term neurasthenia is becoming daily more familiar to the general public, it is being, on the whole, used, except as a convenient handle, rather less among neurologists.

    Why Worry? George Lincoln Walton 1897

  • In her presence he always felt a rage against what he called her neurasthenia -- a word he frequently used in drawing up bills for divorce.

    Erik Dorn Ben Hecht 1929

  • So, recognizing the accuracy of the beautiful analysis of Professor Déjérine of what he calls neurasthenia, we venture to assimilate it with the equally true analysis which Babinski has made of the immediate mechanism of what he wishes to call pithiatism.

    The Journal of Abnormal Psychology 1916

  • Some have mistakenly compared CFS to what was called neurasthenia in the late 1800s—a condition that was thought to be caused by reading newspapers and, in the case of women, by education.

    An Illness That's Hard To Live With—Or Define Leonard A. Jason 2011

  • In the condition known as neurasthenia, which is often taken as a type of a functional disease, the basal and intrinsic cause is activity of the nervous system with the using up of material which is not compensated for by the renewal which comes in repose and sleep.

    Disease and Its Causes William Thomas Councilman

  • The only quarrel I have with the name neurasthenia is that it diverts attention from the real condition oftenest to be treated, namely, the faulty mental tendency, and directs attention to an assumed debility which may or may not exist.

    Why Worry? George Lincoln Walton 1897

  • The disease known as neurasthenia arises both in women _and in men_ in consequence of these methods.

    Birth Control A Statement of Christian Doctrine against the Neo-Malthusians Halliday G. Sutherland 1921

  • In sickness, especially in that condition known as neurasthenia, where the main symptoms cluster around an abnormal liability to fatigue, and also in many other conditions, there is an increase in the diffusion of excitement so that one starts all over at a noise, instead of merely turning to see what it is, so that expectation and attention become painful and fatiguing.

    The Foundations of Personality 1921

  • It seems to the reviewer indeed, that what the authors call neurasthenia is merely a somewhat complex elaboration of the psychosis by induction to which Babinski has restricted the name hysteria.

    The Journal of Abnormal Psychology 1916

  • The most important of the psychoneuroses, in so far as the housewife is concerned, is the condition called neurasthenia, although two other diseases, psychasthenia and hysteria, are of importance.

    The Nervous Housewife Abraham Myerson 1914

  • Neurasthenia was popularised by the American neurologist George Miller Beard, who described it as an “exhaustion of the nervous system”.

    What we can learn from 'untranslatable' illnesses Zaria Gorvett 2023


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  • "He worried constantly about bronchial trouble and indigestion. He suffered from rashes and headaches. His doctors spoke of neurasthenia and inflammation of the pancreas. Sometimes he noticed eye pains."

    —David Macfarlane, The Danger Tree, 115

    May 6, 2008

  • (noun) - Neurosthenia debilitas nervosa. Debility or impaired activity of the nerves. From Greek roots meaning "a nerve" and "disability." --Robley Dunglison's Dictionary of Medical Science, 1844

    April 22, 2018