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[kuh n-vuhl-shuh n] /kənˈvʌl ʃən/
contortion of the body caused by violent, involuntary muscular contractions of the extremities, trunk, and head.
violent agitation or disturbance; commotion.
an outburst of great, uncontrollable laughter.
Origin of convulsion
First recorded in 1575-85, convulsion is from the Latin word convulsiōn- (stem of convulsiō). See convulse, -ion Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for convulsion
Historical Examples
  • The forest fairly rocked under the convulsion of the elements.

    In the Valley Harold Frederic
  • The schooner shook with such a convulsion that I was persuaded she had been split.

    The Frozen Pirate W. Clark Russell
  • There are recent marks of convulsion having happened in the island.

    Voyage of H.M.S. Pandora Edward Edwards
  • That which will produce but a headache in an adult will often produce a convulsion in the child.

    The Mother and Her Child William S. Sadler
  • For hours the child passed from one convulsion into another.

    The Secret of the Storm Country Grace Miller White
  • But in the morning he had his first convulsion, and it left him a wreck.

    The Grain Ship Morgan Robertson
  • I had a vague belief that he was suffering from a fit or some form of convulsion.

    The Damned Thing Ambrose Bierce
  • But, before this could be done, the second convulsion took place.

    The Island Queen R.M. Ballantyne
  • At this moment, all convulsion, all struggle, has ceased; the frame is at rest.

    A Strange Story, Complete Edward Bulwer-Lytton
  • It fell with one convulsion on the ground, and gave up the ghost.

    Pelham, Complete Edward Bulwer-Lytton
British Dictionary definitions for convulsion


a violent involuntary contraction of a muscle or muscles
a violent upheaval, disturbance, or agitation, esp a social one
(usually pl) (informal) uncontrollable laughter: I was in convulsions
Derived Forms
convulsionary, adjective
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 convulsion

1580s, from Latin convulsionem (nominative convulsio), noun of action from past participle stem of convellere "to tear loose," from com- "together" (see com-) + vellere "to pluck, pull violently."

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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convulsion in Medicine

convulsion con·vul·sion (kən-vŭl'shən)
An intense, paroxysmal, involuntary muscular contraction.

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

convulsion definition

A severe, often violent involuntary contraction of the muscles. Convulsions may be caused by high fevers or poisoning and often accompany such diseases such as epilepsy.

The New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition
Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Company.
Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.
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