hys·​te·​ria | \ hi-ˈster-ē-ə How to pronounce hysteria (audio) , -ˈstir- How to pronounce hysteria (audio) \

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.

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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.
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Recent Examples on the Web

How much to you think his decision to resign was driven by the media hysteria. Fox News, "Democrats target SCOTUS candidate Amy Coney Barrett," 6 July 2018 This otherwise normal person was driven to hysteria! Constance Grady, Vox, "The author of Friday Black explains why he reimagined Black Friday as a zombie plague," 23 Nov. 2018 Naharin then takes us through a wild prayer circle, a duo of mutual consolation and a final, body-shaking return to mass dance hysteria. Lawrence Toppman, charlotteobserver, "REVIEW: Don't dawdle at 'Spring Works' intermission or you'll miss some of the heat ...," 26 Apr. 2018 And often the president, who announced his candidacy by blaming Mexico for sending rapists and drug dealers into the United States, acts as an accelerant to the hysteria. Jeremy W. Peters, New York Times, "‘You Hate America!’: How ‘the Caravan’ Story Exploded on the Right," 4 Apr. 2018 To wit, how did the partisan propaganda known as the Steele dossier become the basis for an unprecedented FBI probe of a presidential campaign, an abuse of law enforcement, and two years of media and political hysteria? The Editorial Board, WSJ, "Accountability for a Dossier," 25 Mar. 2019 Along those lines, female insanity or hysteria has historically been tied to their reproductive organs. Chloe Schama, Vogue, "How Laura Sims Turned the “Torturous Limbo” of Infertility Into Fascinating Fiction," 11 Jan. 2019 But with all that hysteria, Mean Girls still isn't the project Chabert is asked about the most. Christopher Rosa, Glamour, "There's a Reason Why You See the Same Women in All Those Hallmark Christmas Movies," 23 Nov. 2018 In the 2005 iteration of the South American Championships, Kerlon scored eight goals in seven games, was named player of the tournament, and triggered mass hysteria amongst European scouts. SI.com, "Analysing Whether Vinicius Junior Joining Real Madrid Was a Scouting Masterpiece or a Panic Buy," 5 June 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.

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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

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Statistics for hysteria

Last Updated

27 May 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for hysteria

The first known use of hysteria was in 1801

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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 How to pronounce hysteria (audio) \

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 How to pronounce hysteria (audio) , -ˈtir- How to pronounce hysteria (audio) \

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

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