[ kuhn-vuhls ]
See synonyms for: convulseconvulsed on

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.

  1. to cause to suffer violent, spasmodic contractions of the muscles.

Origin of convulse

First recorded in 1635–45; from Latin convulsus, past participle of convellere “to shatter, tear loose,” equivalent to con- intensive prefix + vul- (variant stem of vellere “to pull, tear”) + -sus, variant of -tus past participle suffix; see con-

Other words from convulse

  • con·vuls·ed·ly, adverb
  • con·vuls·i·ble, adjective
  • con·vuls·i·bil·i·ty, noun
  • un·con·vulsed, adjective Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2024

How to use convulse in a sentence

  • Once that happened, global assembly lines would stop, the losses would mount, and the entire industry would begin convulsing.

    The Next Global Meltdown? | Greg Lindsay, John D. Kasarda | December 2, 2008 | THE DAILY BEAST
  • “Very good,” said he, tucking the brain-convulsing volume under his arm.

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

  • Her fortitude gone, her pains convulsing her, she wailed to Taylor the story of the nights tragic adventure.

    The Ranchman | Charles Alden Seltzer
  • I had no doubts of it as a prophetic utterance, as a world-convulsing message, but the Editor of Lippincott's had.

    Our Philadelphia | Elizabeth Robins Pennell
  • With an Argus eye he watched her destinies through all her convulsing changes.

British Dictionary definitions for convulse


/ (kənˈvʌls) /

  1. (tr) to shake or agitate violently

  2. (tr) to cause (muscles) to undergo violent spasms or contractions

  1. (intr often foll by with) informal to shake or be overcome (with violent emotion, esp laughter)

  2. (tr) to disrupt the normal running of (a country, etc): student riots have convulsed India

Origin of convulse

C17: from Latin convulsus, from convellere to tear up, from vellere to pluck, pull

Derived forms of convulse

  • convulsive, adjective
  • convulsively, adverb
  • convulsiveness, noun

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