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

And the bravery of that made the fear and paranoia go away. Pamela Adlon, Glamour, "Pamela Adlon: I Find Hope in the Art of Self Acceptance," 11 Nov. 2018 Then there is the issue of Kim's mental health, and what some see as signs of stress and even paranoia. Hollie Mckay, Fox News, "US, South Korean intelligence probe reports of Kim Jong Un health woes," 2 Oct. 2018 But over the past few decades, the politics of division and resentment and paranoia has unfortunately found a home in the Republican party. Libby Nelson, Vox, "Read the full transcript of Obama’s fiery anti-Trump speech," 7 Sep. 2018 When our connection to symbols, dates, or events come from the past, they can sometimes be steeped in fear and paranoia. Aliza Kelly Faragher, Allure, "Why Do People Think the Number 13 Is Unlucky? Let's Talk About Triskaidekaphobia," 29 Aug. 2018 Fear, whether out of ignorance, naivete or paranoia, forms the foundation of the IRS phone call scam. David J. Neal, miamiherald, "Those threatening scam IRS phone calls? Somebody's going to jail for them," 10 July 2018 Nothing is so likely to induce paranoia than a department meeting to which you are not invited. The Economist, "Tortured by meetings," 28 June 2018 But whatever tenderness might have been inside him was long ago swallowed up by possessiveness, self-pity and paranoia. Xavier Legrand, New York Times, "Review: In ‘Custody,’ a Father Terrorizes His Family," 27 June 2018 People with dementia can also experience psychological changes like shifts in personality, depression, anxiety, inappropriate behavior, paranoia, agitation, and hallucinations. Korin Miller, SELF, "What’s the Difference Between Normal Age-Related Memory Decline and Signs of Dementia?," 26 Oct. 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

2 Dec 2018

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

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a nest or breeding place

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