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Words nearby PMS

Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023


What does PMS mean?

PMS stands for premenstrual syndrome, a condition that can occur in women several days before the start of their period. Symptoms of PMS can include emotional changes, such as depression or irritability, and physical changes, such as bloating and soreness.

How is PMS pronounced?

[ pee-em-es ]

What are some other words related to PMS?


Where does PMS come from?

Most women who menstruate report experiencing symptoms of PMS. One early description of PMS came in a 1931 paper from American gynecologist Robert Frank, who called it premenstrual tension. In that paper, called “The Hormonal Causes of Premenstrual Tension,” Frank wrote: “It is well known that normal women suffer varying degrees of discomfort preceding the onset of menstruation.”

Frank’s work set the stage for British physician Katharina Dalton to help better define premenstrual syndrome in 1953. In her work, Dalton noticed a lack of monthly headaches during pregnancy and figured out that PMS could be treated with progesterone (of which the body has high amounts during pregnancy), a treatment still in use today. The specific phrase premenstrual syndrome is recorded in the 1940s and the abbreviated PMS in the 1970s.

An early popular reference to PMS was in a 1973 All In The Family episode, “The Battle of the Month.” In 1983, the actual words premenstrual syndrome were used in an episode of Taxi. In the 1980s, two women on trial for murder in the UK used severe PMS as a defense, and received reduced sentences that included hormone treatments. Media coverage of the trials helped launched PMS into mainstream usage.

The TV trope of PMS also has contributed to a stereotype of menstruating women as screaming, crying, and being moody and difficult. That stereotype is why, in part, in the 2000s, some doctors and feminists have questioned whether PMS isn’t also a social construct. While the physical symptoms are indisputable, many feel that PMS is used to discredit women as overemotional. As New Zealand researcher Dr. Sarah Romans told The Atlantic in 2012: “The idea that any emotionality in women can be firstly attributed to their reproductive function—we’re skeptical about that.”

How is PMS used in real life?

Some men have used PMS as a sexist dismissal of a woman’s behavior, as in Her emotions are all over the place. She must just be PMS-ing. It is considered inappropriate to accuse someone having PMS, and only people who do experience PMS have the right to complain about it.



Many women have embraced PMS as a form of empowerment. Dolly Parton channeled her feelings into her song “PMS Blues” in 1994. In 2001, Mary J. Blige wrote her own anthem, simply titled “PMS.”


More examples of PMS:

“Romans isn’t saying that the mood symptoms we attribute to PMS aren’t real and common. But she is saying that those symptoms are culturally over-attributed to the menstrual cycle, to the detriment of the medical community and those experiencing them—and as a broader issue of gender equality.”

—James Hamblin, The Atlantic, October 2012

How to use PMS in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for PMS


abbreviation for
premenstrual syndrome
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

Cultural definitions for PMS

[ (pee-em-es) ]

Associated with the retention of water and salts in the tissues for up to a week before the onset of menstruation, the symptoms of PMS include irritability, fatigue, emotional distress, and sometimes depression.

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.