Definition of convulse in English:



  • 1[no object] (of a person) suffer violent involuntary contraction of the muscles, producing contortion of the body or limbs.

    ‘she convulsed, collapsing to the floor with the pain’
    • ‘The three unknown men in the clearing were grounded, hair frizzled and clothes scorched, their bodies convulsing ever so often though it was clear they were dead.’
    • ‘She knew her body was convulsing, but there was little she could do about that.’
    • ‘He dropped down next to her, and watched in horrified stupefaction as the girl's body convulsed once, twice, then stayed still.’
    • ‘Her body convulsed as she tried to run, but couldn't.’
    • ‘Blood sprayed across the man and the woman collapsed at his feet, her whole body convulsed as blood drained from the gaping slash wound in her throat.’
    • ‘His words echoed in the emptiness of his mind as his frail, emaciated body began to convulse and was racked by involuntary spasms.’
    • ‘The whole body was convulsing, and Lilly's nostrils and eyes flared wide with fright.’
    • ‘The backpack slips from Dawn's fingers, both hands clamping over her mouth, her body convulsing in a struggle to control her gag reflex.’
    • ‘Her body convulsed very slightly, but she was silent.’
    • ‘After resisting his pull for a moment Jordan's head buried itself in his shoulder, and she willingly allowed the burden to be handed over, her body convulsing with sobs.’
    • ‘And, you will recall, we saw his body convulsing while he lay on the ground.’
    • ‘Jessica reached for the button to summon the nurse even as Sam's body began to convulse.’
    • ‘Kristine tightened her muscles while her body convulsed.’
    • ‘The demon's body started convulsing and sizzling.’
    • ‘Mr Bransby said: ‘His whole body was shaking and convulsing and then he just collapsed and couldn't move or speak.’’
    • ‘Richard frantically tried to put the bullet in any of the six chambers but his body was convulsing so hard that it just wouldn't allow him to despite his extra effort.’
    • ‘Her body jerked and convulsed in pain and she fell backwards, dropping her sword with a clatter.’
    • ‘His danger sense went crazy; his entire body convulsed.’
    • ‘My whole body convulsed until I shrank against the wall.’
    • ‘Johnathan craned his head to the side to look at the other man, his entire body convulsing, his fingers twitching, his throat contracting in and out from swallowing air, then finally, the man spoke.’
    shake uncontrollably, shake violently, go into spasms, shudder, jerk, thrash about
    suffer a fit
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    1. 1.1[with object](of an emotion, laughter, or physical stimulus) cause (someone) to make sudden, violent, uncontrollable movements.
      ‘Carlos was convulsed by a second bout of sneezing’
      ‘she rocked backward and forward, convulsed with helpless mirth’
      • ‘The implication is that he was not capable of being as convulsed by this horror as was everyone else and that he spiritually approved of and even created the atmosphere for this event.’
      • ‘At one point the entire audience was so convulsed it looked like a Mexican wave.’
      • ‘Penn is convulsed with ostentatiously felt emotion.’
      • ‘The evil spirit convulsed the man and cried out with a loud voice as he came out of the man.’
      • ‘They both scream then, arching and jittering as if convulsed by electric current.’
      • ‘Please excuse the lack of in-depth analysis of this story, but it's hard to type when your entire body is convulsed with hysterical laughter.’
      • ‘The spirit shrieked, convulsed him violently and came out.’
      • ‘From the moment I picked your book up until I laid it down I was convulsed with laughter.’
      • ‘The combination of Chase's bowling ball technique, his seriousness about the whole thing, and Aaron's outrageous snort convulsed everyone.’
      • ‘Even before the overture starts, there is a silent ballet, characterised by odd tics and jerks: the eight dancers appear to be convulsed by supernatural forces greater than themselves.’
      • ‘Then she is once more convulsed with the hideous pain of digestion.’
      • ‘His grin mushroomed into laughter, and a moment later, he was convulsed with it.’
      • ‘Ethan's face was convulsed with unspeakable rage & confusion.’
      • ‘Then I watched him do it about a week later, and I was distorted and convulsed with hysteria.’
      • ‘Presently the massive bony frame of the Father was convulsed with a fit of coughing.’
      • ‘I was too convulsed with fury to even look at him after what he did to me and Raj.’
      • ‘He then seemed almost to be convulsed with delight at the success of his perilous adventure, and, turning his back, held up the handkerchief to discover the value of his prize, with intense glee evident in every feature.’
      • ‘His heart pounded, and his body was convulsed with pain: a residue of the terror of his nightmare.’
      • ‘She looked to the king and queen for support, but both were convulsed with laughter.’
      • ‘He takes a tiny sniff of the weapons grade stink, and is convulsed with disgust.’
      laugh uproariously, roar with laughter, hold one's sides, be doubled up with laughter
      split one's sides, be rolling in the aisles, be in stitches, die laughing, laugh like a drain, bust a gut, break up
      be creased up, fall about laughing
      View synonyms
  • 2[with object] Throw (a country) into violent social or political upheaval.

    ‘a wave of mass strikes convulsed the Ruhr, Berlin, and central Germany’
    • ‘But there is a still greater fact to notice: as a movement which convulsed all Europe, the Reformation was the one sixteenth-century event which deeply and immediately affected all parts of the British Isles.’
    • ‘And not surprisingly it has convulsed British politics.’
    • ‘The family lived in Nigeria where their existence was, for the most part, only peripherally affected by the civil war then convulsing the country.’
    • ‘While the Labour movement - and its leadership - frets over its chances of winning the election, the latest debate convulsing the campaign team is over the manifesto: not what goes in it, but how big it is.’
    • ‘One of the most remarkable features of the current presidential race is the absence of any discussion of the events that convulsed the entire political system the previous year.’
    • ‘Today our nation is convulsed over the issue of children.’
    • ‘Within a week the world of hurling was convulsed with speculation about how long Carey had to live and just how big the tumour was.’
    • ‘No one but the most obdurate can fail to acknowledge that the main political problem that has convulsed this beautiful State is still a long way from being resolved.’
    • ‘Those were written by the people, and were essentially autobiographical accounts of growing up in a country convulsed by revolution and change.’
    • ‘By 1983, protests against the dictatorship by social organizations and the banned political parties convulsed the country.’
    • ‘The Government knows that this would convulse the country in anger.’
    • ‘After King was assassinated on April 4, 1968, the nation was convulsed by the worst riots in its history.’
    • ‘As an example of the total commitment I give in doing exhaustive hours of research for this column, I just had to go to the pub the other night and see how the smoking ban is convulsing this great little greedy nation of ours.’
    • ‘In September 1949, tens of millions hoped that the establishment of a Communist government in China would bring an end to the military and political turmoil that had convulsed the country for most of the first half of the twentieth century.’
    • ‘There are huge political and social upheavals that are convulsing the nation.’
    • ‘The capacity of trivial events to convulse the media and political commentators never ceases to amaze.’
    • ‘In the early '90s, the country was really convulsed by the murder rate.’
    • ‘This alliance barely outlasted the bonfires lit to celebrate the proclamation of the Crown Colony of Victoria on 1 July 1851, for later that month the colony was convulsed by the discovery of gold.’
    • ‘It strikes me as a brilliant patch of spiritual light, against a backdrop of the escalating darkness of hate, vengeance, and communal frenzy that convulses our political culture today.’
    • ‘While the latter convulsed the entire political system during 1998, it has now remarkably all but vanished from public discussion.’


Mid 17th century: from Latin convuls- pulled violently, wrenched from the verb convellere, from con- together + vellere to pull.