con·​vul·​sion | \ kən-ˈvəl-shən How to pronounce convulsion (audio) \

Definition of convulsion

1a : an abnormal violent and involuntary contraction or series of contractions of the muscles
2a : a violent disturbance
b : an uncontrolled fit : paroxysm

Keep scrolling for more

Other Words from convulsion

convulsionary \ kən-​ˈvəl-​shə-​ˌner-​ē How to pronounce convulsionary (audio) \ adjective

Examples of convulsion in a Sentence

the Russian Revolution was one of the major convulsions of the 20th century

Recent Examples on the Web

Sarin’s effects can be immediate, and range from blurred vision to convulsions and vomiting. Dan Dubno, Popular Mechanics, "How We'll Stop Chemical Attacks," 28 Apr. 2019 Trying to appease both sides, then-Chairman Ben Bernanke sometimes offered confusing guidance, leading to market convulsions. David Harrison, WSJ, "Timeline of Significant Fed Events in 2013," 11 Jan. 2019 More severe cases can include a high fever, head and body aches, disorientation, tremors and convulsions, according to the NSMAD website. Genevieve Bookwalter,, "Mosquitoes in Evanston and 2 other North Shore towns test positive for West Nile virus," 28 June 2018 Symptoms can include abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, tremors and convulsions. Ellen Barry, New York Times, "Skripal Attack Scared U.K. Doctors: ‘We Were Expecting Them Not to Survive’," 29 May 2018 Photo: Getty Images Many people think of an epileptic seizure as a convulsion. Suzanne O’sullivan, WSJ, "Confessions of the Miswired Brain," 5 Oct. 2018 The striker slept for the majority of the day, interrupted once by a fit that, described by teammates, included ‘flailing arms’ and whole-body convulsions., "Ronaldo's 1998 Seizure & World Cup Final Appearance Remains One of Football's Greatest Mysteries," 1 June 2018 One patient, a woman, had convulsions and pinpoint pupils, suggesting exposure to a nerve agent, the statement said. Time, "Monitors Say 14 People Were Killed in a Missile Strike on a Syrian Air Base," 9 Apr. 2018 Larger exposure can lead to loss of consciousness, convulsions, paralysis and respiratory failure. Allison Barrie, Fox News, "Innovative project harnesses Legos and smartphones in the fight against invisible, deadly weapons," 13 July 2018

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

See More

First Known Use of convulsion

1547, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about convulsion

Statistics for convulsion

Last Updated

4 May 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for convulsion

The first known use of convulsion was in 1547

See more words from the same year

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for convulsion



English Language Learners Definition of convulsion

medical : a sudden violent shaking of the muscles in your body that you are unable to control
: a sudden experience of something (such as laughter) that shakes or moves your body
: a sudden change or disturbance that affects a country, organization, etc.


con·​vul·​sion | \ kən-ˈvəl-shən How to pronounce convulsion (audio) \

Kids Definition of convulsion

: an attack of powerful involuntary muscular contractions


con·​vul·​sion | \ kən-ˈvəl-shən How to pronounce convulsion (audio) \

Medical Definition of convulsion

1 : an abnormal violent and involuntary contraction or series of contractions of the muscles often used in plural a patient suffering from convulsions

Keep scrolling for more

Comments on convulsion

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


incapable of being surmounted or overcome

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Finance Words Quiz

  • a-piggy-bank
  • The etymology of mortgage is related most closely to which two words?
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

Word Winder's CrossWinder

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!