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[dih-leer-ee-uh m] /dɪˈlɪər i əm/
noun, plural deliriums, deliria
[dih-leer-ee-uh] /dɪˈlɪər i ə/ (Show IPA)
Pathology. a more or less temporary disorder of the mental faculties, as in fevers, disturbances of consciousness, or intoxication, characterized by restlessness, excitement, delusions, hallucinations, etc.
a state of violent excitement or emotion.
Origin of delirium
1590-1600; < Latin dēlīrium frenzy, equivalent to dēlīr(āre) (see deliration) + -ium -ium
Related forms
semidelirium, noun Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2017.
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Examples from the Web for delirium
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • For two days past she had not left her bed, while during the third night of her illness she became seized with fever and delirium.

    Poor Folk Fyodor Dostoyevsky
  • For four days she grew worse, with frequent seasons of delirium.

  • At the first stanza, cheeks grew pale; at the second, tears flowed; and at last, the delirium of enthusiasm burst forth.

    Library Notes A. P. Russell
  • He talked monotonously, colourlessly, and his speech resembled that of one in delirium.

    Foma Gordyeff Maxim Gorky
  • Daisy did not know him, and in her delirium she said things to him and of him which hurt him cruelly.

    Miss McDonald Mary J. Holmes
  • One of the young men starts off alone in a delirium of pain (m3).

    The Writing of the Short Story Lewis Worthington Smith
  • His servant found him in a delirium and for a week his fever ran high.

    Roads from Rome Anne C. E. Allinson
British Dictionary definitions for delirium


noun (pl) -liriums, -liria (-ˈlɪrɪə)
a state of excitement and mental confusion, often accompanied by hallucinations, caused by high fever, poisoning, brain injury, etc
violent excitement or emotion; frenzy
Derived Forms
deliriant, adjective
Word Origin
C16: from Latin: madness, from dēlīrāre, literally: to swerve from a furrow, hence be crazy, from de- + līra ridge, furrow
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 delirium

1590s, from Latin delirium "madness," from deliriare "be crazy, rave," literally "go off the furrow," a plowing metaphor, from phrase de lire, from de "off, away" (see de-) + lira "furrow, earth thrown up between two furrows," from PIE *leis- "track, furrow."

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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delirium in Medicine

delirium de·lir·i·um (dĭ-lēr'ē-əm)
n. de·lir·i·ums or de·lir·i·a (-ē-ə)
A temporary state of mental confusion resulting from high fever, intoxication, shock, or other causes, and characterized by anxiety, disorientation, memory impairment, hallucinations, trembling, and incoherent speech.

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