Definition of spasm in English:



  • 1A sudden involuntary muscular contraction or convulsive movement.

    ‘shifting heavy loads without help brought on muscular back spasms’
    • ‘The reasons were unknown, but onlookers seem to agree it looked like convulsions or spasms.’
    • ‘The most severe cases involve intense spasms in which the muscles contract to protect the joint.’
    • ‘I was stunned by the sudden pain spasms that quaked straight through my spinal cord and nerves.’
    • ‘So much tension brought on spasms of stomach cramps.’
    • ‘Muscle cramping is a painful, involuntary muscle spasm that regularly frustrates athletes.’
    • ‘The slightest movement would send it into spasms.’
    • ‘The spasms had subsided into shivering that came and went with some regularity.’
    • ‘She has occasional painful muscle spasms in her chest - but her consultant is confident everything is settling down well.’
    • ‘Her body convulsed into spasms and the twitching got worse as the situation got worse.’
    • ‘It seemed he was having violent spasms and convulsing.’
    • ‘When I released her, her body convulsed with spasms of pain.’
    • ‘She was curled into a foetal position, her body jerking as fresh spasms of pain hit her.’
    • ‘The main symptom of a slipped disc is sudden, excruciating back pain with severe back muscle spasm.’
    • ‘The ride home was fairly uneventful, except when Nick started having a sneezing spasm, and mom totally freaked out.’
    • ‘Her body jerked once and rigid spasms shook her.’
    • ‘He twitched on the ground, spasms running through his body.’
    • ‘Frank's hands jerked in a spasm, his palms sweaty in the enclosure of his shirt.’
    • ‘He was shuddering uncontrollably and his body was racked with spasms.’
    • ‘Isaac's body jerked, gave a few spasms, twitched a couple times, and got up off the floor.’
    • ‘Nitrates have also been shown to relieve coronary spasm.’
    convulsion, contraction, throes, cramp
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    1. 1.1A sudden and brief spell of an activity or sensation.
      ‘a spasm of coughing woke him’
      • ‘The Pritzkers can only hope that all their current troubles will be fleeting, a brief spasm rather than the beginning of a decline in their fortunes.’
      • ‘The man burst into a quick spasm of crude laughter and then quickly fell silent.’
      • ‘Swanson's hit-and-miss lyrics, combined with the spasms and outbursts of the moog keyboard, completed the bands' sound.’
      • ‘Most intriguing on these two brief noise spasms is lead singer Beverly's grating howl.’
      fit, paroxysm, attack, burst, bout, seizure, outburst, outbreak, explosion, access
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    2. 1.2[mass noun]Prolonged involuntary muscle contraction.
      ‘the airways in the lungs go into spasm’
      • ‘As he twisted around to glance at the television news, his back went into spasm.’
      • ‘The disease is characterized by a gradual increase in skeletal muscle rigidity and muscle spasm.’
      • ‘Heat is often used after the first 24 to 48 hours to reduce pain, relieve muscle spasm, and improve local blood flow.’


  • Experience sudden involuntary muscular contractions; twitch convulsively.

    ‘my body spasmed violently’
    • ‘My diaphragm and lungs spasmed so severely that I woke up screaming because the pain was unbelievably excruciating!’
    • ‘The muscles in my lower back had just spasmed.’
    • ‘Beginners are often plagued by this cramp, which strikes like a boxer's body blow and happens when an overworked diaphragm begins to spasm.’
    • ‘In fact, my arms were spasming with cramps by the time I got home.’
    • ‘Things slowly got worse, despite treatment, until my back began to spasm.’
    • ‘He began to spasm from cramps at the end of a 90-minute practice.’
    • ‘My gut started spasming violently.’
    • ‘Pain shot through his body and his legs spasmed uncontrollably.’
    • ‘My chest begins to spasm from lack of oxygen.’
    • ‘She abruptly crashes to the floor and begins to spasm as though having a seizure.’


Late Middle English: from Old French spasme, or via Latin from Greek spasmos, spasma, from span pull.