para·​noia | \ ˌper-ə-ˈnȯi-ə How to pronounce paranoia (audio) , 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 How to pronounce paranoia (audio) , -​ˈnȯi-​ik , ˌpa-​rə-​ \ or less commonly paranoic \ ˌper-​ə-​ˈnȯi(-​i)k How to pronounce paranoia (audio) , -​ˈnō-​ik , ˌpa-​rə-​ \ adjective or noun
paranoically \ ˌper-​ə-​ˈnȯi(-​i)-​k(ə-​)lē How to pronounce paranoia (audio) , -​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 Pollard’s film makes clear that the FBI’s surveillance of King—and, by extension, of other Black activists throughout U.S. history—reflects a paranoia that’s foundational to American politics and that didn’t end when King died. Hannah Giorgis, The Atlantic, "When the FBI Spied on MLK," 18 Jan. 2021 The first contemporary sign of far-right paranoia in Washington burst into public view on Dec. 4, 2016, during the run-up to Trump’s inauguration. Paul Schwartzman, Washington Post, "A city under siege," 15 Jan. 2021 And there’s even a term for that kind of sensible hypervigilance: prudent paranoia. Jessica Grose, New York Times, "Is Remote Work Making Us Paranoid?," 13 Jan. 2021 Day-seven breakfast went smoothly enough, despite lingering paranoia from the previous evening. Jeff Winkler, The Atlantic, "The Art of Cooking While Everything Burns," 30 Dec. 2020 By June, work video meetings had multiplied to the point that my Zoom fatigue was becoming Zoom paranoia. Susanna Schrobsdorff, Time, "Breaking Up With Netflix and Other Futile New Year's Resolutions," 27 Dec. 2020 These are decisions not made out of fear or paranoia; but experience. Ben Thompson, al, "Birmingham firefighter receives COVID vaccine: I’m doing this for my family," 19 Dec. 2020 There was also the shadow side of the mask story: people refusing to wear them for reasons of ideology or paranoia. Andrew Dickson, The New Yorker, "How Will We Tell the Story of the Coronavirus?," 9 Dec. 2020 Ana Ojeda has said her 39-year-old husband had a history of schizophrenia and paranoia. David Hernandez, San Diego Union-Tribune, "Family of man fatally shot by San Diego police files excessive force claim," 20 Nov. 2020

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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Time Traveler for paranoia

Time Traveler

The first known use of paranoia was in 1887

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Statistics for paranoia

Last Updated

26 Jan 2021

Cite this Entry

“Paranoia.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 26 Jan. 2021.

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More Definitions for paranoia


How to pronounce paranoia (audio)

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 How to pronounce paranoia (audio) \

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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Comments on paranoia

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