\ 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

Rather than contracting in a smooth wave, the chambers of the heart spasm and don't generate a solid contraction. John Timmer, Ars Technica, "What is atrial fibrillation, and why is your watch telling you about it?," 26 Sep. 2018 Like other nerve agents, such as sarin and VX gas, Novichok compounds cause muscle spasms that can lead to respiratory failure and cardiac arrest. Jason Douglas, WSJ, "Nerve Agent Used in Attack Was Developed in Soviet Union as a Weapon," 12 Mar. 2018 If anything, those elegiac spasms seemed to arrive too soon. David Mermelstein, WSJ, "The Czech Philharmonic’s Global Ambitions," 31 Oct. 2018 Its first scene is an extended hallucination in which Peter Ksander’s set, goosed by Keith Skretch’s video, appears to flicker and spasm. New York Times, "Review: ‘This Was the End,’ a Spectral Riff on Chekhov," 10 June 2018 George Hill’s return to the lineup after missing three games against Indiana with back spasms provides Cleveland with a capable ball-handler who can relieve James of some offensive responsibility. Jeff Zillgitt, USA TODAY, "What a difference a week makes: How LeBron James and the Cavaliers flipped the script," 7 May 2018 On talent alone, Porter might have battled Ayton for that expected first pick, but a back injury sidelined him for all but three games of the college season and a recent hip spasm added to the concern. Marc Narducci,, "Michael Porter Jr. remains the mystery man of the NBA draft," 20 June 2018 The recent spasm of violence in Myanmar began when Rohingya insurgents staged a series of attacks on Aug. 25 on about 30 security outposts and other targets., "UN team in Bangladesh vows to work to end Rohingya crisis," 29 Apr. 2018 Buari was a crack cocaine distributor in the area, and authorities blamed him for a spasm of bloodshed there. Jennifer Peltz, Fox News, "Murder case dropped against man imprisoned for 22 years," 21 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

11 Mar 2019

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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 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

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with spasm

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for spasm

Spanish Central: Translation of spasm

Nglish: Translation of spasm for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of spasm for Arabic Speakers

Comments on spasm

What made you want to look up spasm? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


to corrupt or become corrupted

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