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.

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.
Recent Examples on the Web March’s commitment to liberal causes drew the attention of the Red-hunters during the anticommunist hysteria of the late 1940s and early 1950s, spawned by fellow Wisconsinite Sen. Joseph McCarthy. courant.com, 7 Mar. 2022 Johnson, who was 22 when handed her sentence, was one of the dozens of residents swept up in the hysteria of the Salem Witch Trials of 1692, during which 19 people from Salem and neighboring towns were hanged and hundreds of others accused. BostonGlobe.com, 18 Aug. 2021 The conservative hysteria over critical race theory is ultimately a refusal to acknowledge that the country’s classrooms have always taught a white-centric view of U.S. history. Melissa Gira Grant, The New Republic, 9 Aug. 2021 Lil Nas X, meanwhile, has brilliantly used his music videos and internet persona to troll those worked into a moral hysteria over his album Montero. Jeva Lange, The Week, 15 Oct. 2021 But Winkler’s character remained central to the story, even as castmates tired of the hysteria surrounding him. New York Times, 27 Apr. 2022 This documentary details the political hysteria around the enigmatic quarterback’s fateful decision. Rebecca Rubin, Variety, 19 Apr. 2022 The focus on personalities is reflected today in the various books about tyrants and tyranny and the occasional hysteria for liberal world leaders such as Jacinda Ardern. Krithika Varagur, The New Yorker, 17 Mar. 2022 Friedman said his instinct was generally not to be alarmist about emerging drug trends, given the hysteria that has historically accompanied drug use. Andrew Joseph, STAT, 15 Mar. 2022 See More

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.

First Known Use of hysteria

1772, 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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Time Traveler for hysteria

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The first known use of hysteria was in 1772

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Dictionary Entries Near hysteria

hysteresis motor



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Statistics for hysteria

Last Updated

13 May 2022

Cite this Entry

“Hysteria.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/hysteria. Accessed 25 May. 2022.

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More Definitions for hysteria


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

More from Merriam-Webster on hysteria

Nglish: Translation of hysteria for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of hysteria for Arabic Speakers

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about hysteria


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