\ ˈspa-zəm How to pronounce spasm (audio) \

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 In the past, the hospital systems have had spasms of cooperation during hurricanes, blackouts and mass casualty events. New York Times, "How the Chaos at Elmhurst Hospital Exposed Health Care’s Fiefdoms," 14 May 2020 After Dangerfield came up huge with 23 points in UConn’s 11-point victory over Ohio State on Nov. 24, the senior experienced back spasms and sat out when the Huskies took on Dayton two days later. Alexa Philippou,, "Crystal Dangerfield still dealing with back issues; Geno attributes short rotation to recruiting misfires, and more," 3 Dec. 2019 Police in Darbyshire used a drone to film hikers taking legal exercise (even this phrase is sinister), then publicized the video on social media and encouraged a spasm of public outrage at those not sheltering in place. Michael Brendan Dougherty, National Review, "Let’s Never Get Used to This," 1 Apr. 2020 The war, not to mention anti-Semitism, had provoked one of America’s periodic spasms of immigrant paranoia. Scott Eyman, WSJ, "‘The Sun and Her Stars’ Review: Weimar in Hollywood," 24 Jan. 2020 Flights have mostly resumed after being halted by mass demonstrations and spasms of violence on Monday and Tuesday. Fox News, "Chinese diplomat warns Beijing ‘will not sit on its hands’; military runs drills near Hong Kong border," 15 Aug. 2019 The attack comes in the wake of a spasm of violence in skid row. James Queally, Los Angeles Times, "Homeless man burned to death in skid row area," 27 Aug. 2019 Cabrera missed the past three games after sustaining a left biceps spasm against the Orioles on April 29. Anthony Fenech, Detroit Free Press, "Miguel Cabrera's return to Detroit Tigers brief, leaves in 6th inning," 3 May 2018 It is characterized by airway inflammation, mucous production and airway spasm. The Conversation, oregonlive, "6 things people with asthma need to know about their risk of more severe coronavirus illness," 9 Apr. 2020

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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Time Traveler for spasm

Time Traveler

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

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Statistics for spasm

Last Updated

2 Jun 2020

Cite this Entry

“Spasm.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 4 Jun. 2020.

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More Definitions for spasm


How to pronounce spasm (audio)

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 How to pronounce spasm (audio) \

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 How to pronounce spasm (audio) \

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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More from Merriam-Webster on spasm

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for spasm

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with spasm

Spanish Central: Translation of spasm

Nglish: Translation of spasm for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of spasm for Arabic Speakers

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