\ 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

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.
Recent Examples on the Web So, for example, a spoon full of sugar, which is a popular home remedy, the experts say that the sugar kind of irritates the back of your throat, which interrupts the spasm. Taylor Wilson, USA TODAY, 26 July 2022 Daily life had become an anxiety-ridden obstacle course of avoiding the most innocuous tasks that might trigger a spasm. Jesse Hicks, Men's Health, 25 July 2022 Peralta exited with one out in the eighth due to a left hamstring spasm. Evan Petzold, Detroit Free Press, 6 July 2022 The spasm tensing in San Francisco could be an early flare for criminal-justice focused policymakers from both parties. Philip Elliott, Time, 7 June 2022 The other is due to bronchospasm, which happens when the muscles lining the airways in the lungs spasm and constrict, Dr. Elliott says. Sara Gaynes Levy, SELF, 31 May 2022 Most people have had hiccups, an involuntary spasm of the muscles of breathing. Dr. Keith Roach, oregonlive, 1 Apr. 2022 Or was this just another spasm, already fading as technology stocks rebound? James Mackintosh, WSJ, 1 Feb. 2022 The killing of such young children and their teachers just before the winter holidays in 2012 prompted a global spasm of heartbreak and generosity. Elizabeth Williamson, The Atlantic, 2 June 2022 See More

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.

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

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Last Updated

29 Jul 2022

Cite this Entry

“Spasm.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 9 Aug. 2022.

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More Definitions for spasm


\ 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

More from Merriam-Webster on spasm

Nglish: Translation of spasm for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of spasm for Arabic Speakers


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