Try Our Apps


Avoid these words. Seriously.


[par-uh k-siz-uh m] /ˈpær əkˌsɪz əm/
any sudden, violent outburst; a fit of violent action or emotion:
paroxysms of rage.
Pathology. a severe attack or a sudden increase in intensity of a disease, usually recurring periodically.
Origin of paroxysm
1570-80; earlier paroxismos < Greek paroxysmós irritation, derivative of paroxýnein to irritate. See par-, oxy-1, -ism
Related forms
paroxysmal, paroxysmic, adjective
paroxysmally, adverb
hyperparoxysm, noun
postparoxysmal, adjective
preparoxysmal, adjective Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
Cite This Source
Examples from the Web for paroxysm
Historical Examples
  • Saunders became vehement, and paid the penalty of a paroxysm of coughing.

    Good Indian B. M. Bower
  • His prisoner fell into a paroxysm of rage, and struck at him.

    The Gentleman From Indiana Booth Tarkington
  • "It's this way, Munro," said he, when he had got over his paroxysm.

    The Stark Munro Letters J. Stark Munro
  • For a moment she lay with a paroxysm of death twitching her.

    The World Beyond Raymond King Cummings
  • I dare not attempt to delineate the paroxysm of emotion which it excited in every heart.

    Patrick Henry

    Moses Coit Tyler
  • At last, as the paroxysm had reached its height, he bounded up from the bed and awoke.

    Sir Jasper Carew Charles James Lever
  • Lieut. Feraud passed from one paroxysm of astonishment into another.

    A Set of Six Joseph Conrad
  • Lieutenant Feraud passed from one paroxysm of astonishment into another.

    The Point Of Honor Joseph Conrad
  • His desire of life tormented him in a paroxysm of agonising remorse.

    Almayer's Folly Joseph Conrad
  • The next instant, he was down on his knees in a paroxysm of grief and despair.

    The Midnight Queen May Agnes Fleming
British Dictionary definitions for paroxysm


an uncontrollable outburst: a paroxysm of giggling
  1. a sudden attack or recurrence of a disease
  2. any fit or convulsion
Derived Forms
paroxysmal, paroxysmic, adjective
paroxysmally, adverb
Word Origin
C17: via French from Medieval Latin paroxysmus annoyance, from Greek paroxusmos, from paroxunein to goad, from para-1 (intensifier) + oxunein to sharpen, from oxus sharp
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
Cite This Source
Word Origin and History for paroxysm

"sudden attack, convulsion," early 15c., from Middle French paroxysme (16c.), earlier paroxime (13c.), from Medieval Latin paroxysmus "irritation, fit of a disease," from Greek paroxysmos "irritation, exasperation," from paroxynein "to irritate, goad, provoke," from para- "beyond" (see para- (1)) + oxynein "sharpen, goad," from oxys "sharp, pointed" (see acrid). Non-medical sense first attested c.1600. Related: Paroxysmal.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
Cite This Source
paroxysm in Medicine

paroxysm par·ox·ysm (pār'ək-sĭz'əm)

  1. A sharp spasm or fit; a convulsion.

  2. A sudden onset of a symptom or disease, especially one with recurrent manifestations, such as the chills and fever of malaria.

par'ox·ys'mal (-ək-sĭz'məl) adj.
The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
Cite This Source

Word of the Day

Nearby words for paroxysm

Word Value for paroxysm

Scrabble Words With Friends