Definition of hysteria in English:

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Pronunciation: /hɪˈstɪərɪə/


[mass noun]
1Exaggerated or uncontrollable emotion or excitement: the anti-Semitic hysteria of the 1890s
More example sentences
  • Various people are drunk or act strangely or approach mini entertaining hysterias - like whirlpools in cups of tea they pass quickly.
  • The world cannot tolerate these old claims, most times based on sheer hysteria and emotion.
  • The whole history of the US, indeed, is punctuated with scares, crazes and occasional mass hysteria.
frenzy, wildness, feverishness, irrationality;
hysterics, loss of control;
panic, panic attack, alarm, outburst/fit of agitation, loss of reason, fit of madness, neurosis, delirium, derangement, mania, distress, mental distress
British informal the screaming abdabs/habdabs
2An old-fashioned term for a psychological disorder characterized by conversion of psychological stress into physical symptoms (somatization) or a change in self-awareness (such as a fugue state or selective amnesia).
Example sentences
  • They never talk about a disorder called hysteria, they talk about the womb wandering.
  • Freud learned from Charcot that, in order to understand hysteria, he had to look to psychology rather than to neurology.
  • When these types break down they tend to develop either hysteria or mania.


Early 19th century: from Latin hystericus (see hysteric).

  • In ancient times doctors (all male) regarded hysteria as a disease of women cause by a disturbance of the womb. In the early 19th-century English pathologists (also male) formed the English name from Greek hustera ‘uterus, womb’. Earlier terms for the condition had been hysteric (mid 17th century) or hysterical passion, reflecting the same view, and the vapours (mid 17th century).

Words that rhyme with hysteria

Algeria, anterior, bacteria, Bashkiria, cafeteria, criteria, cryptomeria, diphtheria, exterior, Iberia, inferior, interior, Liberia, listeria, Nigeria, posterior, Siberia, superior, ulterior, wisteria

For editors and proofreaders

Line breaks: hys|teria

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