\ˈspa-zəm \

Definition of spasm 

1 : an involuntary and abnormal muscular contraction

2 : a sudden violent and temporary effort, emotion, or sensation a spasm of creativity spasms of pain

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Other Words from spasm

spasm intransitive verb

Examples of spasm in a Sentence

a disease that causes muscle spasms He was racked with coughing spasms. She was suffering spasms of guilt.
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Recent Examples on the Web

Marcelo did not play against Mexico after being replaced early in the game against Serbia because of a back spasm. Houston Chronicle, "England defeats Colombia on PKs to reach World Cup quarterfinals," 3 July 2018 Marcelo limped out of Brazil's final group match against Serbia just minutes in after suffering from a back spasm., "Brazil's Danilo Set to Return for Mexico Clash But Marcelo Doubtful and Douglas Costa Ruled Out," 1 July 2018 President Trump says or does something that triggers a spasm of outrage. Jeremy W. Peters,, "Republican voters feel a deepening bond to Trump," 24 June 2018 Dry drowning occurs when a child inhales water through the nose or mouth, causing a spasm in the airway and difficulty breathing. Salil Pradhan, Md, USA TODAY, "Ask a Doc: What's the difference between dry drowning and secondary drowning?," 1 June 2018 Democrats lacked the votes to filibuster, and their grilling of Gorsuch wasn’t so much an indictment of his credentials as a spasm against the skulduggery that got him there. Simon Van Zuylen-wood, Daily Intelligencer, "How Neil Gorsuch Became the Second-Most-Polarizing Man in Washington," 28 May 2018 Losing one or both houses of Congress in November is unlikely to prompt a spasm of re-regulation or tax increases. The Economist, "Business in the Republicans’ America is flourishing, but also changing," 24 May 2018 Was France changed by this massive spasm of discontent? George Melloan, WSJ, "The Day la Terre Stood Still," 14 May 2018 However, a back spasm shelved him the past few days. John Shea, San Francisco Chronicle, "Former Giant Matt Duffy in familiar position with Rays," 3 Mar. 2018

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

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for spasm

Middle English spasme, from Anglo-French espasme, from Latin spasmus, from Greek spasmos, from span to draw, pull

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Dictionary Entries near spasm


spar varnish




spasm band


Statistics for spasm

Last Updated

7 Oct 2018

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Time Traveler for spasm

The first known use of spasm was in the 14th century

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More Definitions for spasm



English Language Learners Definition of spasm

: a sudden uncontrolled and often painful tightening of a muscle

: a sudden and usually brief occurrence of something you cannot control


\ˈspa-zəm \

Kids Definition of spasm

1 : a sudden uncontrolled and often painful tightening of muscles back spasms

2 : a sudden, strong, and temporary effort, emotion, or outburst a spasm of coughing a spasm of guilt


\ˈspaz-əm \

Medical Definition of spasm 

1 : an involuntary and abnormal contraction of muscle or muscle fibers or of a hollow organ (as an artery, the colon, or the esophagus) that consists largely of involuntary muscle fibers

2 : the state or condition of a muscle or organ affected with spasms the renal artery went into spasm

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a generally accepted meaning of a word

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