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.

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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

The resistance girding for war, or curdling into hysteria, depending on your view. Rachel Van Dongen, Washington Post, "The Daily 202: Trump's trade war is getting very real," 3 July 2018 Fans were sent into hysteria, as the nine-track effort initially appeared only as a TIDAL-exclusive for 36 hours, before hitting other primary streaming service platforms. Michael Saponara, Billboard, "Pusha T & Drake's Feud, Kanye's G.O.O.D. Music Domination, XXXTentacion's Death, 'Scorpion' & More: Recapping a Wild 40 Days in Hip-Hop," 2 July 2018 Justice Kennedy announced his retirement from the Supreme Court this week throwing the left and the mainstream media into utter hysteria. Fox News, "Gorka, Hollman preview Trump's upcoming summit with Putin," 30 June 2018 Colombia then took the lead in the 73rd minute, as Mina powered home a header from a corner to send Los Cafeteros' fans into hysteria. SI.com, "Senegal 0-1 Colombia: Lethal Los Cafeteros Edge Into Last 16 as Cissé's Side Crash Out on Fair Play," 28 June 2018 The Warriors are literally going to be starting five All-Stars next season, and that development led to hysteria among fans and media: Is this ruining the league? Andrew Sharp, SI.com, "The NBA is Broken, But Not Because of DeMarcus Cousins," 5 July 2018 As more police arrived, Ireland’s demeanor varied from paranoia to hysteria, police wrote in the statement of charges. Pamela Wood, baltimoresun.com, "Glen Burnie man charged with attempted murder after attacking group with personal watercraft on Magothy River, police said," 2 July 2018 Possible explanations range from sonic weapons to an infection to mass hysteria to some sort of toxic exposure or even a drug. Rachel Becker, The Verge, "Why we still don’t know what’s going on with ‘sonic attacks’ in Cuba and China," 15 June 2018 As of Monday morning, the Red Hen was already deep in the grip of online hysteria. Daniel Arkin /, NBC News, "This restaurant booted Sarah Sanders, then came the digital pitchforks.," 25 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

11 Nov 2018

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 \

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

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Comments on hysteria

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playful or foolish behavior

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