[ er-uh-thiz-uh m ]
/ ˈɛr əˌθɪz əm /

noun Physiology.

an unusual or excessive degree of irritability or stimulation in an organ or tissue.

Origin of erethism

1790–1800; < French éréthisme < Greek erethismós irritation, equivalent to ereth(ízein) to irritate + -ismos -ism

Related forms

er·e·this·mic, er·e·this·tic [er-uh-this-tik] /ˌɛr əˈθɪs tɪk/, er·e·thit·ic [er-uh-thit-ik] /ˌɛr əˈθɪt ɪk/, e·reth·ic [uh-reth-ik, e-reth-] /əˈrɛθ ɪk, ɛˈrɛθ-/, adjectivehy·per·er·e·thism, noun Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for erethism

British Dictionary definitions for erethism


/ (ˈɛrɪˌθɪzəm) /


physiol an abnormally high degree of irritability or sensitivity in any part of the body
  1. a personality disorder resulting from mercury poisoning
  2. an abnormal tendency to become aroused quickly, esp sexually, as the result of a verbal or psychic stimulus

Derived Forms

erethismic, erethistic or erethitic, adjective

Word Origin for erethism

C18: from French éréthisme, from Greek erethismos irritation, from erethizein to excite, irritate
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

Medicine definitions for erethism


[ ĕrə-thĭz′əm ]


Abnormal irritability or sensitivity of an organ or body part to stimulation.
The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.