hys·​te·​ria | \ hi-ˈster-ē-ə , -ˈstir- \

Definition of hysteria

1 : a psychoneurosis marked by emotional excitability and disturbances of the psychogenic, sensory, vasomotor, and visceral (see visceral sense 4) functions
2 : behavior exhibiting overwhelming or unmanageable fear or emotional excess political hysteria The plague had caused mass hysteria in the village.

Keep scrolling for more

Examples of hysteria in a Sentence

A few of the children began to scream, and soon they were all caught up in the hysteria. Wartime hysteria led to many unfair accusations of treachery. The spreading of the disease caused mass hysteria in the village.
See More

Recent Examples on the Web

Ever since President Trump took office, the left has been totally obsessed with all things Russia but this week following the president's meeting with Vladimir Putin, their Russia hysteria reached all new levels of crazy. Fox News, "Conway: Media outrage over Helsinki completely over-the-top," 21 July 2018 The widespread hysteria around the album caused it to trend on Twitter, racking up millions of tweets in mere hours, tweets that were filled with praise from fans and fellow artists alike. Phillip Henry, Teen Vogue, "Five Years Later, Beyoncé's Surprise Album Is Still One of the Most Important Moments in Music," 13 Dec. 2018 Prominent and powerful men in the community were prosecuted for homosexual activities and the Statesman's coverage was rightly criticized for contributing to the hysteria that ruined people's lives. idahostatesman, "About Us: 150 Years of News and Change | Idaho Statesman," 1 Aug. 2015 The crisis at the Mexican-U.S. border is—as both the statistics and common sense indicate—manufactured hysteria, the work of racist demagoguery. Robert Sullivan, Vogue, "What If There Were No Borders?," 30 Nov. 2018 There’s a level of hysteria in San Francisco, in particular, about anything new. Eric Johnson, Recode, "Why Uber will win the scooter wars," 6 Aug. 2018 The strings are almost troublingly raw, perched on the edge of hysteria, over a yawning gulf to the deep base of the orchestra. Zachary Woolfe, New York Times, "Review: A Conductor Sets Munich’s Ashen ‘Parsifal’ Aflame," 1 July 2018 Theories range from deliberate attacks, malfunctioning technology or even symptoms caused by mass hysteria, a toxin or a virus. Mimi Whitefield, miamiherald, "Mystery deepens in Havana as U.S. confirms a 26th diplomat in Cuba suffered health symptoms," 28 June 2018 Having a freezer filled with logs of cookie dough will give you a calm, perhaps even smug feeling that’s the polar opposite of holiday hysteria. Adina Steiman, WSJ, "This Holiday Season’s Smartest Cookie," 5 Dec. 2018

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

1801, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for hysteria

New Latin, from English hysteric, adjective, from Latin hystericus, from Greek hysterikos, from hystera womb; from the Greek notion that hysteria was peculiar to women and caused by disturbances of the uterus

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about hysteria

Statistics for hysteria

Last Updated

4 Feb 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for hysteria

The first known use of hysteria was in 1801

See more words from the same year

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for hysteria



English Language Learners Definition of hysteria

: a state in which your emotions (such as fear) are so strong that you behave in an uncontrolled way
: a situation in which many people behave or react in an extreme or uncontrolled way because of fear, anger, etc.


hys·​te·​ria | \ hi-ˈster-ē-ə \

Kids Definition of hysteria

: a state in which emotions (as fear or joy) are so strong that a person acts in an uncontrolled way


hys·​te·​ria | \ his-ˈter-ē-ə , -ˈtir- \

Medical Definition of hysteria

1a : a psychoneurosis marked by emotional excitability and disturbances of the psychic, sensory, vasomotor, and visceral functions without an organic basis
b : a similar condition in domestic animals
2 : behavior exhibiting overwhelming or unmanageable fear or emotional excess

Keep scrolling for more

Comments on hysteria

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


the perfect form or example of something

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

What did you just call me?! A Quiz

  • rows-of-various-emoji
  • If a member of the audience describes your speech as bombastic, does that person mean it is:
Name That Thing

Test your visual vocabulary with our 10-question challenge!

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!