Definitions

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

Etymologies

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).
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
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"). (Wiktionary)

Examples

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

    Hungry

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

    Conservapedia - Recent changes [en]

  • 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.

    A Night at the Shrine of Fela

  • 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.

    My Literary Passions

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

    Expositions of Holy Scripture Deuteronomy, Joshua, Judges, Ruth, and First Book of Samuel, Second Samuel, First Kings, and Second Kings chapters I to VII

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

    NPR Topics: News

  • 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.

    Gwen Davis: In the Next Room, Reviewed

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

    Down and Out in Paris and London

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

    Two Trips to Gorilla Land and the Cataracts of the Congo

  • 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.

    Court Memoirs of France Series — Complete

Comments

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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