from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • n. A sudden outburst of emotion or action: a paroxysm of laughter.
  • n. A sudden attack, recurrence, or intensification of a disease.
  • n. A spasm or fit; a convulsion.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. A random or sudden outburst (of activity).
  • n. An explosive event during a volcanic eruption.
  • n. A sudden recurrence of a disease.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. The fit, attack, or exacerbation, of a disease that occurs at intervals, or has decided remissions or intermissions.
  • n. Any sudden and violent emotion; spasmodic passion or action; a convulsion; a fit.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. In medicine, a fit of any disease; periodical exacerbation of a disease.
  • n. Hence Any sudden and violent action; spasmodic affection or action; convulsion; fit.
  • n. Figuratively, a quarrel.

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

  • n. a sudden uncontrollable attack


from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

Middle English paroxism, periodic attack of a disease, from Medieval Latin paroxysmus, from Greek paroxusmos, from paroxūnein, to stimulate, irritate : para-, intensive pref.; see para-1 + oxūnein, to goad, sharpen (from oxus, sharp; see ak- in Indo-European roots).

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

From French paroxysme, from Medieval Latin paroxysmus, from Ancient Greek παροξυσμός (paroksusmos, "irritation, the severe fit of a disease"), from παροξύνειν (paroksunein, "to sharpen, irritate"), from παρά (pará) + ὀξύνειν (oksunein, "sharpen"), from ὀξύς (oksus, "sharp").


  • Her innards were in paroxysm, violently expelling what they no longer recognized as food.


  • The Greek word is the root of the English word paroxysm, which in medicine can stand for a seizure.

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  • That is the basic joke of this very funny play: we modern, knowing libertines, entirely familiar with orgasms, watching repressed Victorians clinically discussing the heretofore unknown phenomenon they term a paroxysm, all thanks to Mr. Edison’s wondrous new discovery, electricity.

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  • To be sure I had passed through what I may call a paroxysm of Alexander Smith, a poet deeply unknown to the present generation, but then acclaimed immortal by all the critics, and put with Shakespeare, who must be a good deal astonished from time to time in his Elysian quiet by the companionship thrust upon him.

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  • Saul had what would now be called a paroxysm of insanity.

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  • (Maria Dizzia) for "hysteria" by inducing a "paroxysm" - what we would call an orgasm nowadays.

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  • None of the characters is particularly sympathetic, including the wife of the doctor performing the electronic massage under the sheet that induces a 'paroxysm' in the patient, and paroxysms of laughter from (by the sound of it) men in the audience.

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  • Furex was a strange creature, a Limousin stonemason who worked steadily all the week and drank himself into a kind of paroxysm on

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  • Under such media the disease, par excellence, of the Gaboon is the paroxysm which is variously called Coast, African, Guinea, and

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  • Bonaparte's, but, according to others, engaged by Madame Bonaparte to perform the part she did demanded, upon her knees, in a kind of paroxysm of joy, the happiness of embracing him, in doing which she fainted, or pretended to faint away, and a pension of three thousand livres -- was settled on her for her affection.

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  • The weeks of passivity caught up with me and yanked me to my feet in a contained paroxysm of self-disgust. From "The Last Werewolf" by Glen Duncan.

    March 3, 2012

  • renumeratedfrog, your quote amuses me greatly.

    September 24, 2008

  • "Her sudden paroxysm took me completely by surprise and trapped me in a tangle of her cramped muscles, unable to pull out."

    August 20, 2008

  • "(Stamps her jingling spurs in a sudden paroxysm of sudden fury.)"

    Joyce, Ulysses, 15

    February 8, 2007