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

It was originally chartered in 1905 as The German National Bank, but anti-German hysteria during World War I led the bank to change its name to Lincoln National Bank. Randy Tucker, Cincinnati.com, "Two historic Downtown buildings up for sale along fast-developing Fourth Street corridor," 12 July 2018 Manufacturing a crisis, stoking hysteria and even condoning violence, all in the name of getting clicks and viewers. Brian Flood, Fox News, "Anti-Trump media moves goal posts after executive order in 'shameful' display of bias," 22 June 2018 Exit Zinedine Zidane, enter weeks of hysteria and stress for Real. SI.com, "Nottingham Forest & Brazil Bosses in Mix as Real Madrid Plan to Name Zidane Successor by Thursday," 9 June 2018 Evangelicals, aided by the rapidly growing Ku Klux Klan, whipped up hysteria about obscenity through their sermons, publications, and radio shows. Linda Gordon, The New Republic, "How birth-control leaders found allies in American religious groups," 5 Apr. 2018 Finding a way back from the brink won't be easy, but less hysteria and more reason would be a useful first step. Author: Katrina Vanden Heuvel | Opinion, Anchorage Daily News, "On Russia, we need more reason and less frenzy," 28 Feb. 2018 While the initial hysteria died down, the mystery continued as coins similar to those discovered at Bath Abbey started to appear at churches and museums in Denmark. James Rogers, Fox News, "Mysterious 'devil coins' discovered in church," 28 June 2018 Like many trends before it, the navel hysteria eventually faded, and the belly button became nothing more than the place your umbilical cord used to be once again. Samantha Sasso, refinery29.com, "7 Celebrities You Totally Forgot Had Belly-Button Piercings," 5 June 2018 Seven streets that were renamed during the anti-German hysteria of World War I were given honorary names to acknowledge their original German names. Cameron Knight, Cincinnati.com, "Cincinnati: 'Where every street has two names'," 22 Jan. 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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Phrases Related to hysteria

go into hysterics

have hysterics

in hysterics

Statistics for hysteria

Last Updated

2 Sep 2018

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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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