Simple Definition of paroxysm
medical : a sudden attack or increase of symptoms of a disease (such as pain, coughing, shaking, etc.) that often occurs again and again
: a sudden strong feeling or expression of emotion that cannot be controlled
Examples of paroxysm in a sentence
He went into paroxysms of laughter.
<a paroxysm of laughter greeted the pratfall>
Did You Know?
Paroxysm didn't just burst onto the scene recently; its roots go back to ancient Greek. The word ultimately derives from the Greek paroxynein, which means "to stimulate." Oxynein, a parent of paroxynein, means "to provoke" or "to sharpen" and comes from oxys, a Greek word for "sharp." (That root also underlies the word oxygen.) In its earliest known English uses in the 15th century, paroxysm denoted agitation or intensification of a disease or its symptoms. (A still-used example of that sense is "a paroxysm of coughing.") Additionally, paroxysm soon took on a broader sense referring to an outburst, especially a dramatic physical or emotional one.
Origin and Etymology of paroxysm
Middle English paroxism, from Medieval Latin paroxysmus, from Greek paroxysmos, from paroxynein to stimulate, from para- + oxynein to provoke, from oxys sharp — more at oxygen
First Known Use: 15th century
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