[ par-uhk-siz-uhm, puh-rok‐ ]
/ ˈpær əkˌsɪz əm, pəˈrɒk‐ /
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See synonyms for: paroxysm / paroxysmal on Thesaurus.com


any sudden, uncontrollable outburst; a fit of emotion or action: paroxysms of rage;a paroxysm of laughter;a paroxysm of coughing;The war unleashed a paroxysm of violence.
Pathology. a severe attack or a sudden increase in intensity of a disease, usually recurring periodically.



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Origin of paroxysm

First recorded in 1570–80; earlier paroxismos, from Greek paroxysmós “irritation,” derivative of paroxýnein “to irritate.” See par-, oxy-1, -ism


par·ox·ys·mal [par-uhk-siz-muhl, puh-rok‐] /ˌpær əkˈsɪz məl, pəˌrɒk‐/ par·ox·ys·mic [par-uhk-siz-mik, puh-rok‐] /ˌpær əkˈsɪz mɪk, pəˌrɒk‐/ adjectivehy·per·par·ox·ysm, noun
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2021

Example sentences from the Web for paroxysm

British Dictionary definitions for paroxysm

/ (ˈpærəkˌsɪzəm) /


an uncontrollable outbursta paroxysm of giggling
  1. a sudden attack or recurrence of a disease
  2. any fit or convulsion

Derived forms of paroxysm

paroxysmal or paroxysmic, adjectiveparoxysmally, adverb

Word Origin for paroxysm

C17: via French from Medieval Latin paroxysmus annoyance, from Greek paroxusmos, from paroxunein to goad, from para- 1 (intensifier) + oxunein to sharpen, from oxus sharp
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 paroxysm

[ părək-sĭz′əm ]


A sharp spasm or fit; a convulsion.
A sudden onset of a symptom or disease, especially one with recurrent manifestations, such as the chills and fever of malaria.

Other words from paroxysm

par′ox•ysmal (-ək-sĭzməl) adj.
The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.