\ 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

Monday’s prison riot in Brazil that killed at least 57 people — 16 of whom were decapitated — was only the latest spasm of horrific violence to strike the South American country’s overburdened penitentiaries. Washington Post, "Why Brazil has been so prone to deadly prison riots," 30 July 2019 Howard had some spasms at the end of the first quarter that sent him back to the locker room. Rick Bonnell, charlotteobserver, "How Charlotte Hornets center Dwight Howard lived up to Superman nickname Tuesday | Charlotte Observer," 27 Feb. 2018 After dealing with back spasms last week, Liberty football coach Hugh Freeze underwent surgery Friday when a potentially life-threatening strand of staph infection entered his bloodstream. Chris Bumbaca, USA TODAY, "Liberty football coach Hugh Freeze had surgery for life-threatening staph infection," 18 Aug. 2019 That might even be a cautionary warning for our own iconoclastic spasms; the attackers inadvertently grant power to the image being attacked. Edward Rothstein, WSJ, "‘Striking Power: Iconoclasm in Ancient Egypt’ Review: Editing the Image," 17 June 2019 In El Paso, Dayton and Chicago, a weekend of horrific gun violence seemed on the surface to be another spasm of disconnected mayhem, people taking the lives of others almost at random. Marc Fisher, Anchorage Daily News, "Weekend of mass killing reflects how American violence goes viral," 5 Aug. 2019 The sound was the same as when a match touches the pilot light of a stove, only louder and deeper, a spasm of air expanding so fast and hard against the warehouse walls that the whole building shuddered and shook. Sean Flynn, Esquire, "The Perfect Fire," 9 Mar. 2017 Its most famous drug is Botox, which is used to treat muscle spasms and migraines but is also commonly used as a cosmetic agent to reduce skin wrinkles. Chris Isidore, CNN, "AbbVie to buy Allergan in a $63 billion drug deal," 25 June 2019 Along with reducing wrinkles temporarily, Botox is approved to treat a growing number of medical conditions, including migraines and muscle spasms. Washington Post, "AbbVie makes $63B bid for Botox maker Allergan," 25 June 2019

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

9 Sep 2019

Look-up Popularity

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).


recurring in steady succession

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