• synonyms


[kuh n-vuhls]
verb (used with object), con·vulsed, con·vuls·ing.
  1. to shake violently; agitate.
  2. to cause to shake violently with laughter, anger, pain, etc.
  3. to cause to suffer violent, spasmodic contractions of the muscles.
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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 formscon·vuls·ed·ly, adverbcon·vuls·i·ble, adjectivecon·vuls·i·bil·i·ty, nounun·con·vulsed, adjective
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Related Words


Examples from the Web for convulsed

Contemporary Examples

Historical Examples

  • For an instant her face was convulsed with a fairly demoniac fury.

    The Leopard Woman

    Stewart Edward White

  • It gave Silvine a shock, so violent that it convulsed her in every fiber of her being.

    The Downfall

    Emile Zola

  • And he, who was usually so good-tempered and gentle, was convulsed with grief and anger.

    Doctor Pascal

    Emile Zola

  • The muscles of the man's eyes were convulsed by religious mania.

    The Christian

    Hall Caine

  • Why, when he looked up to begin, was Gino convulsed with silent laughter?

British Dictionary definitions for convulsed


  1. (tr) to shake or agitate violently
  2. (tr) to cause (muscles) to undergo violent spasms or contractions
  3. (intr often foll by with) informal to shake or be overcome (with violent emotion, esp laughter)
  4. (tr) to disrupt the normal running of (a country, etc)student riots have convulsed India
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Derived Formsconvulsive, adjectiveconvulsively, adverbconvulsiveness, 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

Word Origin and History for convulsed



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.

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

convulsed in Medicine


  1. To affect or be affected with irregular and involuntary muscular contractions; throw or be thrown into convulsions.
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The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.