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[kuh n-vuhls] /kənˈvʌls/
verb (used with object), convulsed, convulsing.
to shake violently; agitate.
to cause to shake violently with laughter, anger, pain, etc.
to cause to suffer violent, spasmodic contractions of the muscles.
Origin of convulse
1635-45; < Latin convulsus past participle of convellere to shatter, tear loose, equivalent to con- con- + vul- (variant stem of vellere to pull, tear) + -sus, variant of -tus past participle suffix
Related forms
convulsedly, adverb
convulsible, adjective
convulsibility, noun
unconvulsed, adjective Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2017.
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Examples from the Web for convulsing
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • And while I was convulsing myself in vain, the train started!

  • There was a blaze of fire, and a half a dozen Dusties slid to the ground, convulsing.

    Image of the Gods Alan Edward Nourse
  • Here, or nowhere, must the solution be attempted of those social problems which are convulsing more and more all Christendom.

    Yeast: A Problem Charles Kingsley
  • In Glanville it was the mind governing and convulsing the body.

    Pelham, Complete Edward Bulwer-Lytton
  • Who could tell but that all the dreadful wars that were then convulsing Europe had not been caused by it?

  • So rigid was his self-control that he gave no other sign of the passion that was convulsing him.

  • It rang from one end of the district to the other, convulsing dive-keepers who for days had been as funereal as undertakers.

    Little Lost Sister Virginia Brooks
British Dictionary definitions for convulsing


(transitive) to shake or agitate violently
(transitive) to cause (muscles) to undergo violent spasms or contractions
(informal) (intransitive) often foll by with. to shake or be overcome (with violent emotion, esp laughter)
(transitive) to disrupt the normal running of (a country, etc): student riots have convulsed India
Derived Forms
convulsive, adjective
convulsively, adverb
convulsiveness, noun
Word Origin
C17: from Latin convulsus, from convellere to tear up, from vellere to pluck, pull
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for convulsing



1640s, transitive; 1680s, intransitive; from Latin convulsus, past participle of convellere (transitive only) "to pull away, to pull this way and that, wrench," hence "to weaken, overthrow, destroy" (see convulsion). Related: Convulsed (1630s); convulsing.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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convulsing in Medicine

convulse con·vulse (kən-vŭls')
v. con·vulsed, con·vuls·ing, con·vuls·es
To affect with irregular and involuntary muscular contractions; throw into convulsions.

The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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