Definition of convulsion in English:

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Pronunciation: /kənˈvʌlʃ(ə)n/


(often convulsions)
1A sudden, violent, irregular movement of the body, caused by involuntary contraction of muscles and associated especially with brain disorders such as epilepsy, the presence of certain toxins or other agents in the blood, or fever in children: toxic side effects like convulsions febrile convulsions
More example sentences
  • Most children with febrile convulsions do not develop epilepsy.
  • Many parents' dread of fevers has to do with the fear of fever convulsions or brain damage.
  • The medicines are indicated for anxiety, insomnia, convulsions, and muscle relaxation.
fit, seizure, paroxysm, spasm, attack, muscular contractions;
technical ictus
1.1 (convulsions) Uncontrollable laughter: the audience collapsed in convulsions
More example sentences
  • Performance after scintillating performance emitted from audiences enormous peals of laughter, convulsions and from one patron in particular - very, very audible heaving.
  • ‘That not a white elephant, that's a blue elephant,’ blurted Jim, now in convulsions of laughter at what he thought was a brilliant joke.
  • As a kid I was blown away by the scale, and as an adult I'm sent into convulsions of laughter at his always dead-on commentary on our world.
fits of laughter, paroxysms of laughter, gales of laughter, peals of laughter, uncontrollable laughter
informal hysterics, stitches
1.2An earthquake or other violent or major movement of the earth’s crust: the violent convulsions of tectonic plates
More example sentences
  • A watery gateway to the USA's Pacific Northwest, the Sound itself is a giant product of Earth's violent convulsions.
  • These would certainly have involved massive geological and tectonic movements, releasing water trapped beneath the earth's crust, and also involving all manner of major convulsions.
  • Can we develop early warning systems to protect ourselves from nature's convulsions in earthquake and storm?
2A violent social or political upheaval: the convulsions of 1939–45
More example sentences
  • The country will go through numerous social and even political convulsions as it balances liberalization and a reform agenda with the need to maintain stability, peace and order.
  • These scandals are all part of the general social convulsions and sea changes of modernism-postmodernism.
  • Whoever would have thought that an item no bigger than an aspirin tablet would have caused such moral, social and even political convulsions?
upheaval, eruption, turmoil, turbulence, disruption, agitation, disturbance, unrest, disorder, furore, upset, tumult, chaos;
earthquake, cataclysm, storm;
German Sturm und Drang


Mid 16th century (originally in the sense 'cramp, spasm'): from Latin convulsio(n-), from the verb convellere (see convulse).

Words that rhyme with convulsion

avulsion, compulsion, emulsion, expulsion, impulsion, propulsion, repulsion, revulsion

For editors and proofreaders

Line breaks: con|vul¦sion

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