de·​lir·​i·​um | \ di-ˈlir-ē-əm How to pronounce delirium (audio) \

Definition of delirium

1 : an acute (see acute sense 1a(2)) mental disturbance characterized by confused thinking and disrupted attention usually accompanied by disordered speech and hallucinations
2 : frenzied excitement he would stride about his room in a delirium of joy— Thomas Wolfe a crowd in a state of delirium

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Examples of delirium in a Sentence

In her delirium, nothing she said made any sense. shoppers running around in a delirium the day before Christmas
Recent Examples on the Web Tahz packs her suitcase in a sweaty, sobbing delirium. Ali Barthwell, Vulture, 1 Sep. 2021 Sure, home prices are up all across the country, but nowhere is seeing the kind of month-over-month increases that Austin is, let alone the mass delirium of buyers waiving inspections and other traditional safeguards. Paul L. Underwood, Curbed, 6 July 2021 Agitated or excited delirium, terms often used to describe victims in police use-of-force cases, are not accepted as real conditions by the American Medical Association and the American Psychiatric Association. NBC News, 21 May 2021 Ray Kelly, a spokesman for the Alameda County Sheriff’s Office, said Kreycik’s movements could indicate a sort of delirium from heat exhaustion. Megan Cassidy, San Francisco Chronicle, 23 Aug. 2021 The medical examiner and the attorney general's expert both concluded that Prude was in a state of excited delirium because of his drug use. NBC News, 15 Aug. 2021 In the official autopsy report, Poulos' conclusion mirrored Point's: excited delirium. Gina Barton, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, 23 Aug. 2021 This situation can result in heat exhaustion (a dangerous condition characterized by symptoms that include nausea, muscle cramps and dizziness) and the deadlier heat stroke, which can cause delirium, hot and dry skin, and loss of consciousness. Tanya Lewis, Scientific American, 22 July 2021 In humans, the plant’s toxin quickly causes nausea, delirium, convulsions and vomiting. oregonlive, 29 June 2021

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'delirium.' 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 delirium

circa 1563, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for delirium

Latin, from delirare to be crazy, literally, to leave the furrow (in plowing), from de- + lira furrow — more at learn

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Time Traveler for delirium

Time Traveler

The first known use of delirium was circa 1563

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Dictionary Entries Near delirium



delirium tremens

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Statistics for delirium

Last Updated

20 Sep 2021

Cite this Entry

“Delirium.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 25 Oct. 2021.

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More Definitions for delirium



English Language Learners Definition of delirium

: a mental state in which you are confused and not able to think or speak clearly usually because of fever or some other illness
: a state of wild excitement and great happiness


de·​lir·​i·​um | \ di-ˈlir-ē-əm How to pronounce delirium (audio) \

Kids Definition of delirium

1 : a condition of mind in which thought and speech are confused usually because of a high fever or other illness
2 : wild excitement


de·​lir·​i·​um | \ di-ˈlir-ē-əm How to pronounce delirium (audio) \

Medical Definition of delirium

: a mental disturbance characterized by confusion, disordered speech, and hallucinations

More from Merriam-Webster on delirium

Nglish: Translation of delirium for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of delirium for Arabic Speakers Encyclopedia article about delirium


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