from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • n. An intense, paroxysmal, involuntary muscular contraction.
  • n. An uncontrolled fit, as of laughter; a paroxysm.
  • n. Violent turmoil: "The market convulsions of the last few weeks have shaken the world” ( Felix Rohatyn).

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. An intense, paroxysmal, involuntary muscular contraction.
  • n. An uncontrolled fit, as of laughter; a paroxysm.
  • n. Violent turmoil.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. An unnatural, violent, and unvoluntary contraction of the muscular parts of an animal body.
  • n. Any violent and irregular motion or agitation; a violent shaking; a tumult; a commotion.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. A violent and involuntary contraction of the muscular parts of an animal body, with alternate relaxation; a fit.
  • n. Any violent and irregular motion; turmoil; tumult; commotion.
  • n. Specifically, in geology, a sudden and violent disturbance and change of position of the strata; a geological event taking place rapidly and at one impulse, instead of slowly and by repeated efforts: nearly the same as catastrophe or cataclysm. Violent voluntary muscular effort.
  • n. Same as laryngismus stridulus.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • n. a sudden uncontrollable attack
  • n. a violent disturbance
  • n. a physical disturbance such as an earthquake or upheaval
  • n. violent uncontrollable contractions of muscles


Sorry, no etymologies found.


  • The book has an epic scope — it is a picture of a planet in convulsion — without foregoing the detail of everyday life or a sense of the moment.

    A Different Stripe:

  • In the end, you make the -- we're going through a kind of short-term convulsion, and normal will be what normal was, maybe a titch (ph) different?

    CNN Transcript Oct 4, 2001

  • China, the most populous nation of the globe, was in convulsion, its regime still undecided.

    Fifteen Years at the World Bank

  • _ -- Although there is no disease of the nervous system which can be properly termed convulsive, or justify the use of the word convulsion to indicate any particular disease, yet it is often such a prominent symptom that a few words may not be out of place.

    Special Report on Diseases of the Horse

  • The highest eulogy that can be pronounced on the intellectual character of a ruler, in times of great civil convulsion, is that it is his policy to have no policy, content with keeping his ship trim as he permits her to sweep downwards with the precipitous torrent.

    An Address in Commemoration of Abraham Lincoln

  • Such a convulsion is the struggle of gradual suffocation, as in drowning; and, in the original Opium Confessions, I mentioned a case of that nature communicated to me by a lady from her own childish experience.

    Blackwood's Edinburgh Magazine, Volume 57, No. 357, June, 1845

  • The convulsion is a substitute for the criminal act.

    The Journal of Abnormal Psychology

  • Most frequently pain of body is the cause of convulsion, which is often however exchanged for madness; and a painful delirious idea is most frequently the cause of madness originally, but sometimes of convulsion.

    Zoonomia, Vol. II Or, the Laws of Organic Life

  • The man looked upon me for a moment, fixedly, then, bending his head towards his breast, he appeared to be undergoing a kind of convulsion, which was accompanied by a sound something resembling laughter; presently he looked at me, and there was a broad grin on his features.


  • a convulsion was the earthquake of the 8th January, which, although it had only affected the continent of North America, had sufficed to break the connecting-link, and to launch Victoria Island upon the wide ocean.

    The Fur Country


Log in or sign up to get involved in the conversation. It's quick and easy.