One of the mysteries of the English language finally explained.
1Occurring or done in brief, irregular bursts.‘spasmodic fighting continued’
intermittent, fitful, irregular, sporadic, erratic, occasional, infrequent, scattered, patchy, isolated, odd, uneven, periodic, periodical, recurring, recurrent, on and offView synonyms
- ‘The orchestra comes to life in spasmodic bursts.’
- ‘The band bring abrasive but melodic rock that comes complete with spasmodic on-stage performance.’
- ‘She gives a last little spasmodic lunge and then pulls away and takes a deep breath.’
2Caused by, subject to, or in the nature of a spasm or spasms.‘a spasmodic cough’
- ‘Her chin began a spasmodic quivering and the tears sprang into her eyes.’
- ‘Hiccups are the spasmodic, involuntary contraction of the diaphragm that is caused by irritation of the nerves that supply these muscles.’
- ‘The shivering had died to spasmodic twitches and then even they stopped.’
- ‘Right now a spasmodic tic in his leg at the wrong time could get him killed.’
- ‘In a letter to Emily Howland, Washington described Benson as ‘whimsical, spasmodic and rather superficial.’’
- ‘she screamed, as her left hamstring muscle tightened in a spasmodic reaction.’
- ‘The oil is topically applied to relieve spasmodic pains.’
Late 17th century: from modern Latin spasmodicus, from Greek spasmōdēs, from spasma (see spasm).
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