Definition of hysteria in English:



  • 1Exaggerated or uncontrollable emotion or excitement:

    ‘the anti-Semitic hysteria of the 1890s’
    • ‘Another expert suggested that the resulting chaos of an attack would be worsened by mass hysteria.’
    • ‘The mass hysteria by the zealots does not bode well for India or Hinduism.’
    • ‘Plus it played on a big fear of mine for the end of the first third, namely mob rule and mass hysteria.’
    • ‘This invoked a further outbreak of mass hysteria amongst the fleet.’
    • ‘Various people are drunk or act strangely or approach mini entertaining hysterias - like whirlpools in cups of tea they pass quickly.’
    • ‘The media is trying to develop mass hysteria to support the war drive.’
    • ‘Perhaps it is too hot, or Madrilenos are just no good at building up mass hysteria.’
    • ‘The medicated result is a toxic level of mass hysteria for the patient, or in this case, the news subscriber.’
    • ‘The mass hysteria that it created, however, particularly at the funeral, worried me immensely.’
    • ‘I have a tendency to put these things in the class of mass hysteria.’
    • ‘Many people thought they knew the end of the world was nigh, but were lying to prevent mass hysteria.’
    • ‘The world cannot tolerate these old claims, most times based on sheer hysteria and emotion.’
    • ‘Am I remorseful that it got out of hand and escalated into mass hysteria?’
    • ‘Whenever two people from the same side of politics differ there's mass hysteria.’
    • ‘The whole history of the US, indeed, is punctuated with scares, crazes and occasional mass hysteria.’
    • ‘Several researchers have noted that episodes of mass hysteria are probably far more common than we currently think.’
    • ‘Tautou also does enough to suggest that beneath her happiness lies hysteria and an emotional volatility.’
    • ‘Did you never wonder what these sudden waves of mass hysteria were about?’
    • ‘If aliens were found, would it not be kept quiet due to the potential mass hysteria?’
    • ‘When Diana died, the country was in a state of something close to mass hysteria.’
    frenzy, wildness, feverishness, irrationality
    hysterics, loss of control
    panic, panic attack, alarm, fit of agitation, outburst of agitation, loss of reason, fit of madness, neurosis, delirium, derangement, mania, distress, mental distress
    the screaming abdabs, the screaming habdabs
    View synonyms
  • 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).

    • ‘Great to have your company today, where we're looking at contemporary cases of hysteria.’
    • ‘When these types break down they tend to develop either hysteria or mania.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Shock often manifests itself as conversion hysteria, where the mind causes the body to be incapacitated.’


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