\ 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 Treating the pain of TMJ, as a migraine treatment or even as a way to make the face more symmetrical after facial paralysis or spasm. Roxanne Adamiyatt, Town & Country, "Botox vs. Fillers? Which Injectable to Get and Why," 22 Mar. 2021 Hugo Burnham’s drums and Dave Allen’s bass spasm in tandem like a muscle cramp, confident and nervous in equal measure. Washington Post, "Gang of Four changed the way punk sounded and what it could say. A new box set reveals the peak of their power.," 12 Mar. 2021 Hole, a former FedEx employee, opened fire at the facility near Indianapolis' main airport before taking his own life in a spasm of violence that lasted only a few minutes, according to police. Kristina Sgueglia, Meridith Edwards, CNN, "Prosecutor: 'Shortcomings' in state law allowed Indianapolis FedEx shooter to legally purchase weapons used in attack," 19 Apr. 2021 On Thursday night, in a terrifyingly quick spasm of violence, Indianapolis faced its third mass shooting since the start of the year. New York Times, "In a Spasm of Violence, Indianapolis Faces the Country’s Latest Mass Shooting," 16 Apr. 2021 Urine infection, bladder spasm and bladder contracture all are complications of having a catheter. Dr. Keith Roach, oregonlive, "Dear Doctor: Don’t wait to call urologist for complication from hip replacement surgery," 14 Apr. 2021 Brexit, to Hopkin’s eyes, was an anti-system spasm reflecting the failure of British mainstream politics to address the deepening insecurity wrought by neoliberal policies. Robert Kuttner, The New York Review of Books, "Dividends of a Just Economy," 13 Apr. 2021 After a quick slushy spasm, 50s will return into next week. Star Tribune, "Clouds Stick Around Sunday, With Rain Chances Returning Sunday Night Into Monday," 10 Apr. 2021 Family members were stunned and bewildered Thursday by a spasm of violence in which a one-time professional football player was accused of shooting and killing five people in South Carolina on Wednesday and then dying by suicide. NBC News, "Phillip Adams, ex-NFL player suspected in S.C. shooting, struggled through injuries during career," 8 Apr. 2021

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

6 May 2021

Cite this Entry

“Spasm.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 15 May. 2021.

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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

More from Merriam-Webster on spasm

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for spasm

Nglish: Translation of spasm for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of spasm for Arabic Speakers

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