Definition of paroxysm
paroxysmalplay \ˌper-ək-ˈsiz-məl, ˌpa-rək- also pə-ˌräk-\ adjective
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Examples of paroxysm in a Sentence
He went into paroxysms of laughter.
a paroxysm of laughter greeted the pratfall
Recent Examples of paroxysm from the Web
Last Tuesday, Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Vista, sent Twitter into paroxysms of joy when he was photographed on the roof of his headquarters taking a cell-phone picture of the crowd below.
From 1914 to 1918, the wealthy and powerful Western nations and empires that had come to dominate the globe wrecked themselves in a paroxysm of destruction unmatched in any previous era.
This Red Bull production of Jeffrey Hatcher’s adaptation of a Gogol masterpiece stars Michael Urie as a man who thrusts a small town into paroxysms of anxiety and bribery.
Dr. Boris Behncke of the Osservatorio Etneo posted an excellent video of the action during the 10/26 paroxysm that shows the lava fountaining that occurred from the New Southeast Crater.
These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'paroxysm'. Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.
Did You Know?
Paroxysm didn't just burst onto the scene recently; its roots go back to ancient Greek. The word ultimately derives from the Greek paroxynein, which means "to stimulate." Oxynein, a parent of paroxynein, means "to provoke" or "to sharpen" and comes from oxys, a Greek word for "sharp." (That root also underlies the word oxygen.) In its earliest known English uses in the 15th century, paroxysm denoted agitation or intensification of a disease or its symptoms. (A still-used example of that sense is "a paroxysm of coughing.") Additionally, paroxysm soon took on a broader sense referring to an outburst, especially a dramatic physical or emotional one.
Origin and Etymology of paroxysm
Middle English paroxism, from Medieval Latin paroxysmus, from Greek paroxysmos, from paroxynein to stimulate, from para- + oxynein to provoke, from oxys sharp — more at oxygen
First Known Use: 15th century
PAROXYSM Defined for English Language Learners
Definition of paroxysm for English Language Learners
medical : a sudden attack or increase of symptoms of a disease (such as pain, coughing, shaking, etc.) that often occurs again and again
: a sudden strong feeling or expression of emotion that cannot be controlled
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