: an involuntary and abnormal muscular contraction
: a sudden violent and temporary effort, emotion, or sensation
a spasm of creativity
spasms of pain
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.
Recent Examples on the Web Trying to swallow so much as a sip of water — even thinking about trying to swallow it — is enough to trigger extremely painful muscle spasms. Stephen C. George, Discover Magazine, 3 Oct. 2023 One morning during a spasm of violence two decades ago, with suicide bombings shattering Israel every other day, the King David Hotel in Jerusalem seemed eerily empty. Peter Baker, New York Times, 28 Oct. 2023 The Roman Empire, for example, unraveled during a spasm of volcanic explosions, which led to a period of cooling that precipitated the first pandemic of bubonic plague. WIRED, 21 Oct. 2023 People who've been stung may have weakness, fever, chills, muscle spasms, nausea, and vomiting. Michael Menna, Verywell Health, 9 Oct. 2023 My jaw had inexplicably developed severe spasms, leaving me in acute pain, barely able to hold a conversation. Hazlitt, 27 Sep. 2023 Other symptoms can include loss of motor skills including problems walking, swallowing or muscle spasms. Vanessa Etienne, Peoplemag, 12 Oct. 2023 Reese Waters was getting treatment for back spasms. Mark Zeigler, San Diego Union-Tribune, 10 Oct. 2023 In people with Raynaud’s phenomenon, cold temperatures or stress trigger spasms in the small blood vessels near the surface of the skin, causing the vessels to constrict and limit blood flow. Barbara Mantel, NBC News, 13 Oct. 2023 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'spasm.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


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

First Known Use

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

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

Dictionary Entries Near spasm

Cite this Entry

“Spasm.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/spasm. Accessed 11 Dec. 2023.

Kids Definition


: a sudden uncontrolled contracting of muscles
back spasms
: a sudden violent and temporary effort, emotion, or outburst
a spasm of creativity
spasm verb

Medical Definition


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

More from Merriam-Webster on spasm

Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
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