con·​vulse | \ kən-ˈvəls How to pronounce convulse (audio) \
convulsed; convulsing

Definition of convulse

transitive verb

: to shake or agitate violently especially : to shake with or as if with irregular spasms was convulsed with laughter

intransitive verb

: to become affected with convulsions

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Synonyms for convulse


agitate, bucket, jerk, jiggle, joggle, jolt, jounce, judder [chiefly British], quake, quiver, shake, shudder, vibrate, wobble (also wabble)

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Choose the Right Synonym for convulse

shake, agitate, rock, convulse mean to move up and down or to and fro with some violence. shake often carries a further implication of a particular purpose. shake well before using agitate suggests a violent and prolonged tossing or stirring. an ocean agitated by storms rock suggests a swinging or swaying motion resulting from violent impact or upheaval. the whole city was rocked by the explosion convulse suggests a violent pulling or wrenching as of a body in a paroxysm. spectators were convulsed with laughter

Examples of convulse in a Sentence

The patient reacted to the medication and began convulsing. The country was convulsed by war.

Recent Examples on the Web

Stock and bond markets routinely convulse when the Fed is tightening monetary policy by raising rates. Eric Morath, WSJ, "Fed Faces a Fresh Test: Engineering a Soft Economic Landing," 6 Jan. 2019 The performance began with a spotlit Taylor Stanley, who elegantly convulsed before initiating a full-on dance party with the aid of seven other dancers. Lilah Ramzi, Vogue, "The New York City Ballet Hosts a Fall Gala to Remember With Costumes by Gareth Pugh, Alberta Ferretti, and Giles Deacon," 28 Sep. 2018 But as California has convulsed in tragedy — a mass shooting and an outbreak of wildfires that included the deadliest in the state’s history — the president has not only offered little comfort but heaped on criticism. Matt Viser, The Seattle Times, "Trump blames California for natural disaster, adding to denunciations of strongly Democratic state," 13 Nov. 2018 The oil-rich region and other cities in Iraq's southern Shiite heartland have been convulsed by the most serious protests in years, with residents complaining of power outages, filthy tap water and soaring unemployment. Fox News, "Calm returns to Iraq's Basra after week of violent protests," 9 Sep. 2018 The city’s geological stratigraphy has been repeatedly convulsed, metamorphosed under spectacular pressures. Greg Woolf, WSJ, "‘Rome: A History in Seven Sackings’ Review: The City That Survived," 29 June 2018 The fighting has become a predictable cycle of violence as the region convulses with decades-old animosities over Kashmir, where rebel groups demand that the territory be united either under Pakistani rule or as an independent country. Fox News, "India says Pakistan firing kills 4 soldiers in Kashmir," 12 June 2018 As a member of the president’s family, officials in Pyongyang judged, Mr. Kushner would have the ear of his father-in-law and be immune from the personnel changes that had convulsed the early months of the administration. James Hohmann, Washington Post, "The Daily 202: Trump team cannot get its story straight on separating migrant families," 18 June 2018 Following the attack on Saturday night, doctors in Eastern Ghouta saw patients convulsing and some who appeared to be paralyzed and unresponsive, an official with the Union of Medical Care and Relief Organizations (UOSSM) told CNN. Sheena Mckenzie, Tamara Qiblawi And Fred Pleitgen, CNN, "Dozens suffocate in 'horrifying' suspected chemical attack in Syria," 8 Apr. 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'convulse.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of convulse

1614, in the meaning defined at transitive sense

History and Etymology for convulse

Latin convulsus, past participle of convellere to pluck up, convulse, from com- + vellere to pluck — more at vulnerable

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Statistics for convulse

Last Updated

8 Mar 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for convulse

The first known use of convulse was in 1614

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More Definitions for convulse



English Language Learners Definition of convulse

medical : to have an experience in which the muscles in your body shake in a sudden violent way that you are not able to control : to experience convulsions
formal : to affect (someone or something) suddenly and violently


con·​vulse | \ kən-ˈvəls How to pronounce convulse (audio) \
convulsed; convulsing

Kids Definition of convulse

: to shake violently or with jerky motions I convulsed with laughter.


con·​vulse | \ kən-ˈvəls How to pronounce convulse (audio) \
convulsed; convulsing

Medical Definition of convulse

transitive verb

: to shake or agitate violently especially : to shake or cause to shake with or as if with irregular spasms was convulsed with pain

intransitive verb

: to become affected with convulsions some children will inevitably convulse when fever reaches a high point— H. R. Litchfield & L. H. Dembo

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More from Merriam-Webster on convulse

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with convulse

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for convulse

Spanish Central: Translation of convulse

Nglish: Translation of convulse for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of convulse for Arabic Speakers

Comments on convulse

What made you want to look up convulse? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


to reflect, repel, echo, or resound

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