para·​noia | \ ˌper-ə-ˈnȯi-ə , ˌpa-rə-\

Definition of paranoia

1 : mental illness characterized by systematized delusions of persecution or grandeur usually without hallucinations Psychotic symptoms and paranoia persisted, and she continued to "find clues" of conspiracy against her.— Helen K. Delichatsios et al.
2 : a tendency on the part of an individual or group toward excessive or irrational suspiciousness and distrustfulness of others The members of America's racist right inhabit a murky world of conspiracy, suspicion, and paranoia.— Wayne King

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Other Words from paranoia

paranoiac \ ˌper-​ə-​ˈnȯi-​ˌak , -​ˈnȯi-​ik , ˌpa-​rə-​ \ or less commonly paranoic \ ˌper-​ə-​ˈnȯi(-​i)k , -​ˈnō-​ik , ˌpa-​rə-​ \ adjective or noun
paranoically \ ˌper-​ə-​ˈnȯi(-​i)-​k(ə-​)lē , -​ˈnō-​i-​k(ə-​)lē , ˌpa-​rə-​ \ adverb

Examples of paranoia in a Sentence

She was diagnosed with delusional paranoia. I had to admit that my fears were just paranoia.

Recent Examples on the Web

Fox News not only has cultivated a symbiotic relationship with the president, but has adopted the racial paranoia and conspiracy-theorizing of the alt-right. Jeet Heer, The New Republic, "The Breitbartization of Fox News," 22 Mar. 2018 For much of the last half-century, the paranoia and tyranny of the McCarthy era in America has seemed more like a bizarre anomaly than an evil that could easily reappear. Deanna Isaacs, Chicago Reader, "Arts / Opera / Performing Arts / LGBT Fellow Travelers brings the 1950s ‘lavender scare’ to opera," 19 Mar. 2018 Two-thirds of shooters had previous signs of mental illness such as paranoia and delusions. San Francisco Chronicle, "Mass shootings — the real issue is mental health," 4 Apr. 2018 How much anger has been biding its time and biting its tongue, wary of being pathologized as hysteria or dismissed as paranoia? Leslie Jamison, New York Times, "I Used to Insist I Didn’t Get Angry. Not Anymore.," 17 Jan. 2018 Whatever the reason, trying to figure out what to give conjures the same terrible blend: panic, paralysis, paranoia, and fear. Vogue, "Day 7: Get a Next-Level Gift," 12 Nov. 2018 Plagued by the same PTSD that affects many who have survived war zones, Colvin sometimes disappeared for days, suffering from paranoia, and intermittently sought help in therapy to sort through the images from her work that haunted her. Lauren Hubbard, Town & Country, "The True Story of Marie Colvin, the Foreign Correspondent Who Inspired the Film A Private War," 2 Nov. 2018 Trump’s absurd utterances to illustrate the president’s tumultuous inner life of paranoia, narcissism and xenophobia. Brian Flood, Fox News, "New York Times offends with 'homophobic' cartoon depicting Trump, Putin as lovers," 16 July 2018 Those symptoms include belligerence, anxiety and paranoia—all of which could make one more likely to commit a crime. Michael Mccann,, "Could Kellen Winslow Jr.'s Attorneys Use Football-Induced Brain Injury as Defense for Alleged Crimes?," 16 June 2018

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

1887, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for paranoia

New Latin, from Greek, madness, from paranous demented, from para- + nous mind

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Statistics for paranoia

Last Updated

11 Feb 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for paranoia

The first known use of paranoia was in 1887

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English Language Learners Definition of paranoia

medical : a serious mental illness that causes you to falsely believe that other people are trying to harm you
: an unreasonable feeling that people are trying to harm you, do not like you, etc.


para·​noia | \ ˌpar-ə-ˈnȯi-ə \

Medical Definition of paranoia

1 : a psychosis characterized by systematized delusions of persecution or grandeur usually without hallucinations
2 : a tendency on the part of an individual or group toward excessive or irrational suspiciousness and distrustfulness of others

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More from Merriam-Webster on paranoia

Spanish Central: Translation of paranoia

Nglish: Translation of paranoia for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of paranoia for Arabic Speakers Encyclopedia article about paranoia

Comments on paranoia

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to express emotion in a dramatic way

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