Definitions

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

  • n. A sudden, involuntary contraction of a muscle or group of muscles.
  • n. A sudden burst of energy, activity, or emotion.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. A sudden, involuntary contraction of a muscle, a group of muscles, or a hollow organ.
  • n. A violent, excruciating seizure of pain.
  • n. A sudden and temporary burst of energy, activity, or emotion.
  • v. To produce and undergo a spasm.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. An involuntary and unnatural contraction of one or more muscles or muscular fibers.
  • n. A sudden, violent, and temporary effort or emotion.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. Excessive muscular contraction.
  • n. In general, any sudden transitory movement of a convulsive character, voluntary or involuntary; an abnormally energetic action or phase of feeling; a wrenching strain or effort: as, a spasm of industry, of grief, of fright, etc.; a spasm of pain or of coughing.

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

  • n. a painful and involuntary muscular contraction
  • n. (pathology) sudden constriction of a hollow organ (as a blood vessel)

Etymologies

Middle English spasme, from Old French, from Latin spasmus, from Greek spasmos, from spān, to pull.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
From Old French spasme, from Latin spasmus, from Ancient Greek σπασμός (spasmos, "spasm, convulsion"). Compare span. (Wiktionary)

Examples

  • Muscles in spasm, cut off from ligaments and blood straining with effort to keep the heart working.

    DAMAGED GOODS • by Jon Bland

  • Last night, however, my back in spasm from too much sitting, my wrists tingling and aching from too much typing, my husband (legitimately) annoyed because I was in a foul mood, my older son nearly in tears because his homework was to look through our trash and act like an archeologist but there is no good trash!,

    The Work of Poetry : Rachel Zucker : Harriet the Blog : The Poetry Foundation

  • If Ms Spence had been black that would surely have left the home office twitching in spasm. on September 19, 2007 at 8: 04 am | Reply dickiebo

    They Don’t Like It Up ‘Em! « POLICE INSPECTOR BLOG

  • "When the patient came into the clinic the next day," recalls physical therapist Brian Hagen, facility director at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center for Sports Medicine, "he was in very significant pain from acute lower back muscle spasm, which is the body's way of 'splinting' itself to prevent further damage."

    Seven Ways to Save Your Back During Hunting Season

  • The affected limbs exhibit muscular rigidity or spasm, which is aggravated on movement but disappears under an anæsthetic; the reflexes are exaggerated, and sometimes there are perverted involuntary movements (_athetosis_).

    Manual of Surgery Volume Second: Extremities—Head—Neck. Sixth Edition.

  • Devine called the spasm "minor" and said he believes it will calm down by today's doubleheader.

    SFGate: Top News Stories

  • She calls the decline in northward migration a "spasm" - not a lasting reality.

    The Seattle Times

  • I saw him expire with an anguish, unaccountable even to myself, the spasm was as the wrenching of some limb in agonizing torture, but it was brief as it was intolerable.

    III.6

  • A spasm occurs when a wrong message from the nerve causes the muscle to move.

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  • Miss Sally took another pinch, and putting her head on one side, looked at her questioner, with a curious kind of spasm about her mouth, but with

    The Old Curiosity Shop

Comments

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  • This would happen to House's bad leg at times.

    July 9, 2012