From French paroxysme, from Medieval Latin paroxysmus, from Ancient Greek παροξυσμός (paroksusmos, “irritation, the severe fit of a disease”), from παροξύνειν (paroksunein, “to sharpen, irritate”), from παρά (pará) + ὀξύνειν (oksunein, “sharpen”), from ὀξύς (oksus, “sharp”).
paroxysm (plural paroxysms)
- A random or sudden outburst (of activity).
- «There, on the soft sand, a few feet away from our elders, we would sprawl all morning, in a petrified paroxysm of desire, and take advantage of every blessed quirk in space and time to touch each other [...] » - Vladimir Nabokov, Lolita, 1955
- Indeed in his excitement at this breakthrough he inadvertently dug his nails into the nurse's bottom, a gesture she misinterpreted, so that he had to suffer a paroxysm of breasts and loins in response. - John Fowles, Mantissa, 1983
- Unable to turn his back on the fanged danger and go on, the bull would be driven into paroxysms of rage. - Jack London, The Call of the Wild, 1903
- An explosive event during a volcanic eruption.
- A sudden recurrence of a disease.