From French paroxysme, from Medieval Latin paroxysmus (“severe illness, fit of agony, paroxysm”), from Ancient Greek παροξυσμός (paroxusmós, “irritation, the severe fit of a disease”). Analyzable as para- + oxy- + -ism.
paroxysm (plural paroxysms)
- A random or sudden outburst (of activity).
- 1955, Vladimir Nabokov, Lolita, 1st American edition, New York, N.Y.: G[eorge] P[almer] Putnam’s Sons, published August 1958, →OCLC, part 1, page 14:
- There, on the soft sand, a few feet away from our elders, we would sprawl all morning, in a petrified paroxysm of desire, and take advantage of every blessed quirk in space and time to touch each other: […]
- 1983, John Fowles, Mantissa:
- Indeed in his excitement at this breakthrough he inadvertently dug his nails into the nurse's bottom, a gesture she misinterpreted, so that he had to suffer a paroxysm of breasts and loins in response.
- 2022 December 31, Carlotta Gall, Oleksandr Chubko, “In Bucha, a Final Rampage Served as a Coda to a Month of Atrocities”, in The New York Times, →ISSN:
- The Russian soldier left a trail of blood and devastated lives in a last paroxysm of violence only hours before Russian troops began withdrawing.
- An explosive event during a volcanic eruption.
- A sudden recurrence of a disease, such as a seizure or a coughing fit.