Definition of convulsion in US English:



  • 1A sudden, violent, irregular movement of a limb or of the body, caused by involuntary contraction of muscles and associated especially with brain disorders such as epilepsy, the presence of certain toxins or other agents in the blood, or fever in children.

    • ‘Her body also exhibited sudden convulsions in the cold - also known as shivers.’
    • ‘Such substances cause an increase in heart rate, blood pressure, and body temperature, hallucinations, convulsions, and respiratory depression.’
    • ‘Swelling also may occur in the brain and can cause emergency symptoms such as seizures or convulsions.’
    • ‘Elsewhere we see a young man strapped onto gurneys and administered violent shocks that trigger convulsions; we can only guess whether his screams quelled the pain.’
    • ‘Symptoms of epilepsy can include brief loss of awareness, muscle contractions, convulsions, mental confusion and sometimes lack of consciousness.’
    • ‘If treatment is not immediate, the victim's condition can deteriorate to convulsions, brain damage, and eventual death.’
    • ‘His entire body ached, his convulsions had strained muscles he didn't even know he had and he felt decidedly weak.’
    • ‘This can lead to fever, vomiting and convulsions (fits).’
    • ‘This can lead to convulsions, seizures and permanent brain damage in some.’
    • ‘During a seizure, the body goes into convulsions.’
    • ‘Many conditions with an onset in early childhood, such as autism, convulsions, and sudden infant death syndrome, do not have an obvious cause.’
    • ‘Every thirty seconds or so a violent convulsion would shake her and she would tense then lie backwards, wheezing and moaning.’
    • ‘Many parents' dread of fevers has to do with the fear of fever convulsions or brain damage.’
    • ‘It may present as a convulsion, unusual body movement, change in awareness or simply a blank stare.’
    • ‘Serious side effects, such as convulsions, are more likely to occur in younger patients and would be of greater risk to infants than to older children or adults.’
    • ‘The medicines are indicated for anxiety, insomnia, convulsions, and muscle relaxation.’
    • ‘Signs of an overdose include convulsions and pinpoint pupils of the eyes.’
    • ‘Most children with febrile convulsions do not develop epilepsy.’
    • ‘His body went into convulsions as the violent seizure began.’
    • ‘On the third day of admission the infant had a major convulsion.’
    fit, seizure, paroxysm, spasm, attack, muscular contractions
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    1. 1.1convulsions Uncontrollable laughter.
      ‘the audience collapsed in convulsions’
      • ‘Anna didn't know how to make up silly words like Hilda used to, words like ‘frubbelshnik’ that would send me into convulsions of giggles.’
      • ‘‘That not a white elephant, that's a blue elephant,’ blurted Jim, now in convulsions of laughter at what he thought was a brilliant joke.’
      • ‘‘Think of it this way,’ he managed to get out in between his convulsions of laughter.’
      • ‘Admit that you sometimes get uncontrollable convulsions like that.’
      • ‘Performance after scintillating performance emitted from audiences enormous peals of laughter, convulsions and from one patron in particular - very, very audible heaving.’
      • ‘His left leg buckled on him, and the look of surprise on his face sent Cath into convulsions of laughter.’
      • ‘Are his lame slapstick antics intended to send us into convulsions of laughter?’
      • ‘As a kid I was blown away by the scale, and as an adult I'm sent into convulsions of laughter at his always dead-on commentary on our world.’
      fits of laughter, paroxysms of laughter, gales of laughter, peals of laughter, uncontrollable laughter
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    2. 1.2 An earthquake or other violent or major movement of the earth's crust.
      ‘the violent convulsions of tectonic plates’
      • ‘The convulsions of the earth's climate are only part of a familiar, doom-laden equation.’
      • ‘These would certainly have involved massive geological and tectonic movements, releasing water trapped beneath the earth's crust, and also involving all manner of major convulsions.’
      • ‘The rill was a parched ravine now, as though some convulsion of the earth had bled the region dry of its lifeblood.’
      • ‘Can we develop early warning systems to protect ourselves from nature's convulsions in earthquake and storm?’
      • ‘A watery gateway to the USA's Pacific Northwest, the Sound itself is a giant product of Earth's violent convulsions.’
  • 2A violent social or political upheaval.

    ‘the convulsions of 1939–45’
    • ‘The recent convulsions on the stock markets have generated new interest in alternative investments, such as art, furniture and jewellery.’
    • ‘From bloody coups to tribal and religious strife, that country hardly enjoys more than a few months without bloodletting and political convulsions.’
    • ‘These scandals are all part of the general social convulsions and sea changes of modernism-postmodernism.’
    • ‘Having passed through the upheavals and convulsions of the last 20 years and witnessed their impact upon society, we have today a deeper sense of what we lost with the death of Tom.’
    • ‘Then the dollar began to stabilize, which threw the Dow into violent convulsions until October 2002, when the dollar resumed its downtrend.’
    • ‘The election results thus portend a new period of social convulsions.’
    • ‘It was another week of extraordinary developments and violent financial convulsions.’
    • ‘But from the standpoint of their political consciousness, the stock market convulsions must have a fundamentally healthy impact.’
    • ‘In the event of political convulsions arising from the deepening social and economic crisis of the profit system, the old structure of two big business parties alternating in office may be blown apart.’
    • ‘The country is undergoing pangs of change and this is causing social convulsions that occasionally take on violent forms.’
    • ‘This was a time of political and social convulsion throughout Europe.’
    • ‘The country will go through numerous social and even political convulsions as it balances liberalization and a reform agenda with the need to maintain stability, peace and order.’
    • ‘Viola's uncommon cultural thirst was nurtured in the midst of social convulsions; her imagination and intellect stimulated by philosophers and writers, such as Plato and Thoreau.’
    • ‘And in the face of social convulsion, it's not likely that politicians are going to risk their careers and social chaos for the sake of principle.’
    • ‘The political and social convulsions afflicting our neighbour will have severe repercussions for the rest of Europe’
    • ‘The economy is stagnating and the effects of a war threaten to cause violent social convulsions.’
    • ‘The debasement of the media can be traced in relation to the great political convulsions of the past 30 years.’
    • ‘Whoever would have thought that an item no bigger than an aspirin tablet would have caused such moral, social and even political convulsions?’
    • ‘Once the basic networks were in place, the economic and political convulsions of the 1920s and 1930s led to the second stage.’
    • ‘The administration is embarked on a course of action that will, once the lies and fearmongering are exploded by events, produce political convulsions at home and abroad.’
    upheaval, eruption, turmoil, turbulence, disruption, agitation, disturbance, unrest, disorder, furore, upset, tumult, chaos
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Mid 16th century (originally in the sense ‘cramp, spasm’): from Latin convulsio(n-), from the verb convellere (see convulse).