[kuh n-vuhl-shuh n]


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 Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for convulsion

Historical Examples of convulsion

  • 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.

  • 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.

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 plural) informal uncontrollable laughterI was in convulsions
Derived Formsconvulsionary, 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

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

convulsion in Medicine




An intense, paroxysmal, involuntary muscular contraction or a series of such contractions.seizure
The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.

convulsion in Culture


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 Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.