From Wiktionary, the free dictionary
Jump to navigation Jump to search


English Wikipedia has an article on:


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.


  • (US) IPA(key): /ˈpæ.ɹək.ˌsɪ.zəm/
  • (file)


paroxysm (plural paroxysms)

  1. A random or sudden outburst (of activity).
    • 1704, [Jonathan Swift], “Section XI. A Tale of a Tub.”, in A Tale of a Tub. [], London: [] John Nutt, [], →OCLC, pages 203–204:
      [I]n his Paroxyſms, as he vvalked the Streets, he vvould have his Pockets loaden vvith Stones, to pelt at the Signs.
    • 1831, L[etitia] E[lizabeth] L[andon], chapter IV, in Romance and Reality. [], volume III, London: Henry Colburn and Richard Bentley, [], →OCLC, page 70:
      If prevented by force, the screams she sometimes uttered in her paroxysms of rage were fearful, and must inevitably be heard.
    • 1903 July, Jack London, “The Sounding of the Call”, in The Call of the Wild, New York, N.Y.: The Macmillan Company; London: Macmillan & Co., →OCLC, page 212:
      Unable to turn his back on the fanged danger and go on, the bull would be driven into paroxysms of rage.
    • 1918, W[illiam] B[abington] Maxwell, chapter XXIII, in The Mirror and the Lamp, Indianapolis, Ind.: The Bobbs-Merrill Company, →OCLC:
      The slightest effort made the patient cough. He would stand leaning on a stick and holding a hand to his side, and when the paroxysm had passed it left him shaking.
    • 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: []
    • 1961 November 10, Joseph Heller, “McWatt”, in Catch-22 [], New York, N.Y.: Simon and Schuster, →OCLC, page 61:
      He was capable of mighty paroxysms of righteous indignation, and he was indignant as could be when he learned that a C.I.D. man was in the area looking for him.
    • 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[1], →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.
  2. An explosive event during a volcanic eruption.
  3. A sudden recurrence of a disease, such as a seizure or a coughing fit.

Derived terms[edit]

Related terms[edit]


Further reading[edit]