Definition of spasmodic in US English:



  • 1Occurring or done in brief, irregular bursts.

    ‘spasmodic fighting continued’
    • ‘The orchestra comes to life in spasmodic bursts.’
    • ‘She gives a last little spasmodic lunge and then pulls away and takes a deep breath.’
    • ‘The band bring abrasive but melodic rock that comes complete with spasmodic on-stage performance.’
    intermittent, fitful, irregular, sporadic, erratic, occasional, infrequent, scattered, patchy, isolated, odd, uneven, periodic, periodical, recurring, recurrent, on and off
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1 Caused by, subject to, or in the nature of a spasm or spasms.
      ‘a spasmodic cough’
      • ‘she screamed, as her left hamstring muscle tightened in a spasmodic reaction.’
      • ‘The shivering had died to spasmodic twitches and then even they stopped.’
      • ‘The oil is topically applied to relieve spasmodic pains.’
      • ‘Hiccups are the spasmodic, involuntary contraction of the diaphragm that is caused by irritation of the nerves that supply these muscles.’
      • ‘Her chin began a spasmodic quivering and the tears sprang into her eyes.’
      • ‘In a letter to Emily Howland, Washington described Benson as ‘whimsical, spasmodic and rather superficial.’’
      • ‘Right now a spasmodic tic in his leg at the wrong time could get him killed.’


Late 17th century: from modern Latin spasmodicus, from Greek spasmōdēs, from spasma (see spasm).