[ hi-ster-ee-uh, -steer- ]
/ hɪˈstɛr i ə, -ˈstɪər- /


an uncontrollable outburst of emotion or fear, often characterized by irrationality, laughter, weeping, etc.
Psychoanalysis. a psychoneurotic disorder characterized by violent emotional outbreaks, disturbances of sensory and motor functions, and various abnormal effects due to autosuggestion.
Psychiatry. conversion disorder.


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Compare mass hysteria.

Origin of hysteria

First recorded in 1795–1805; hyster(ic) + -ia


sub·hys·te·ri·a, noun
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2020

Example sentences from the Web for hysteria

British Dictionary definitions for hysteria

/ (hɪˈstɪərɪə) /


a mental disorder characterized by emotional outbursts, susceptibility to autosuggestion, and, often, symptoms such as paralysis that mimic the effects of physical disordersSee also conversion disorder
any frenzied emotional state, esp of laughter or crying

Word Origin for hysteria

C19: from New Latin, from Latin hystericus hysteric
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

Medical definitions for hysteria

[ hĭ-stĕrē-ə, -stîr- ]


A psychiatric disorder characterized by the presentation of a physical ailment without an organic cause.
Excessive or uncontrollable emotion, such as fear.

Other words from hysteria

hys•teric (hĭ-stĕrĭk) null adj.
The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.

Cultural definitions for hysteria


A complex neurosis in which psychological conflict is turned into physical symptoms, such as amnesia, blindness, and paralysis, that have no underlying physical cause. Early in his career, Sigmund Freud worked on hysteria.

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.