Word: paroxysm [PAR-uhk-siz-uhm]
- Any sudden, violent outburst; a fit of violent action or emotion: paroxysms of rage.
- Pathology. A severe attack or a sudden increase in intensity of a disease, usually recurring periodically.
Origin: 1570-80; earlier paroxismos from Greek paroxysMOS irritation, derivative of paroXYnein to irritate.
- paroxysmal, paroxysmic, adjective
- paroxysmally, adverb
- hyperparoxysm, noun
- postparoxysmal, adjective
- preparoxysmal, adjective
Examples from the web for paroxysm:
- He thinks the protest is a paroxysm of rage that merely reveals the underlying weakness of his opponents.
- It was especially bad at night: I'd lie down to sleep and that would trigger a paroxysm.
- Lately we seem to be in a paroxysm of worry about the way they spend their time.
- We have all moved collectively from paroxysm through catharsis.
- But it is also possible that the sun, in its final paroxysm, may explode.
- Clasping each other in a paroxysm of anguish, they are engulfed by tears.
- At that point, the Government undergoes a paroxysm of coming to policy closure.
- With the threat of a civil war seemingly removed, the city welcomed him in a paroxysm of joy and relief.
- The doctor's face distorted itself in a paroxysm of fury.
- For a moment, he falters in a paroxysm of fear and grief.
Collins English Dictionary:
- An uncontrollable outburst: a paroxysm of giggling.
- A sudden attack or recurrence of a disease.
- Any fit or convulsion.
Origin: Via French from Medieval Latin paroxysmus annoyance, from Greek paroxusmos, from paroxunein to goad, from para-1 (intensifier) + oxunein to sharpen, from oxus sharp.
Online Etymology Dictionary: "Sudden attack, convulsion," early 15th century, from Middle French paroxysme (16th c.), earlier paroxime (13th c.), from Medieval Latin paroxysmus "irritation, fit of a disease," from Greek paroxysmos "irritation, exasperation," from paroxynein "to irritate, goad, provoke," from para- "beyond" + oxynein "sharpen, goad," from oxys "sharp, pointed". Non-medical sense first attested c.1600.
American Heritage Stedman's Medical Dictionary:
- A sharp spasm or fit; a convulsion.
- A sudden onset of a symptom or disease, especially one with recurrent manifestations, such as the chills and fever of malaria.
Oxford English Dictionary:
Forms: lME–16 paroxisme, lME–16 paroxismos (plural), 15–17 paroxysme, 15–18 paroxism, 15– paroxysm, 16 paroxcisme, 16 paroxime, 16–17 paroxim.
Etymology: < Middle French, French paroxisme (1362–5); in Old French as peroxime (1314; also in Middle French as paroxime, parocisme), paroxysme (1552; 1818 in figurative use) bout of fever or of an illness, period of increased acuteness or severity of a disease, and its etymon post-classical Latin paroxysmus, paroxismus onset of a disease (6th cent.), fit (1200 in a British source), savage impulse (15th cent.), violent sorrow (16th cent.) < ancient Greek paroxysmos, severe fit of a disease (Hippocrates, Galen), irritation, exasperation < paroxynein, to goad, exasperate, irritate ( < para- + oxynein, to sharpen, goad, render acute: see oxyntic, adjective) + -smos, extended form of -mos, suffix forming nouns.
In the 16th cent. the Greek form also occurs as an unassimilated loan, e.g.:
1577 J. Frampton tr. N. Monardes Three Bookes ii. f. 86, When thei bee in their traunce, or paroxismos the smoke of it maketh theim to awake.
- Med. An episode of increased acuteness or severity of a disease, esp. one recurring periodically in the course of the disease; a sudden recurrence or attack, e.g. of coughing; a sudden worsening of symptoms.
- a1413 in J. Norri Names of Sicknesses in Eng. 1400–1550 (1992) 178 Þe paroxisme .i. þe accioun.
- ?a1425 tr. Guy de Chauliac Grande Chirurgie (N.Y. Acad. Med.) f. 22v (MED), Apostemez yn periodez, i. circuites, and in paroxismez, i. accessez..seweþ þe analogie..or proporcioun of þe materiez.
- 1543 B. Traheron tr. J. de Vigo Most Excellent Wks. Chirurg. i. ii. f. 50/2, Optalmia hath certaine paroxysmes or fyttes, and periodes or courses.
- 1604 T. Wright Passions of Minde (new ed.) v. §2. 161 When the paroxime was vpon them.
- 1607 B. Jonson Volpone iii. v. 27 Againe, I feare a paroxisme.
- 1654 R. Whitlock ???t?µ?a 83 If they can..go but so far, as to call the fit of an Ague, a Paroxysme,..my admiring Patient taketh him to be a great Schollard.
- 1705 F. Fuller Medicina Gymnastica 40 They may give wonderful Relief in the Paroxysm.
- 1785 Mem. Amer. Acad. Arts & Sci. 1 409 The Indians..repeat the dose after the paroxism is gone off.
- 1802 Med. & Physical Jrnl. 8 409 In the course of the paroxysm she felt great aversion to water.
- 1876 J. Van Duyn & E. C. Seguin tr. E. L. Wagner Man. Gen. Pathol. 16 The period in which the symptoms make their appearance is called the paroxysm or attack.
- 1973 N. Freedman Joshua 176 They could see that he was trying to stop, but it took several shuddering breaths before the paroxysm was over.
- 1996 M. Hulse tr. W. G. Sebald Emigrants (1997) 171, I was suddenly struck by the paroxysm of pain that a slipped disc can occasion.
- An outburst of violent controversy; an open quarrel or schism. Now rare.
- 1578 Bp. J. Aylmer Let. 17 June in H. Nicolas Mem. Sir C. Hatton (1847) 61 The matter grieved me so much the more, for that I was blamed in the hottest time of the paroxysm between you and me.
- 1650 T. Fuller Pisgah-sight of Palestine iv. i. 13 The greatest contention happening here, was that Paroxysme betwixt Paul and Barnabas.
- 1655 T. Fuller Church-hist. Brit. ii. 84 The Paroxisme continued and encreased, betwixt the Scotish Bishops..and such who celebrated Easter after the Roman Rite.
- 1718 I. Mather Sermons xii. 214 We should be the more careful and watchful against divisions, because good men have had paroxysmes, sharp contentions sometimes.
- 1837 W. Irving Chron. Wolfert's Roost (1855) 48 An election was at hand, which, it was expected, would throw the whole country into a paroxysm.
- a1859 T. Macaulay Virginia in Wks. (1866) 514 Even in the paroxysms of faction, the Roman retained his gravity.
- 1992 New Republic 8 June 20/2 His actions have assisted the Bush campaign by prolonging the public paroxysm over a House Bank from day one.
- A violent attack or outburst of emotion or activity. Freq. with of.
- The extreme stage of an action or episode; a high point, a climax.
- 1650 T. Fuller Pisgah-sight of Palestine iv. v. 84 And fourscore [Years]..in the Paroxysme of their [sc. Egyptians] bondage.
- 1664 J. Worthington Let. 9 Nov. in Diary & Corr. (1855) II. i. 140, I have no time to stir abroad to enquire or to hear any such matters, being in the paroxysm of my business.
- 1786 S. Henley tr. W. Beckford Arabian Tale 13 In the paroxism of his passion he fell furiously on the poor carcases, and kicked them till evening.
- 1821 J. Q. Adams in C. Davies Metric Syst. (1871) iii. 145 At the very moment of fanatical paroxysm of the French revolution.
- 1847 Thackeray Vanity Fair (1848) xxxii. 283 Her doubts and terrors reached their paroxysm; and the poor girl..raved and ran hither and thither in hysteric insanity.
- 1875 M. Arnold Ess. Crit. 243 These chants are taken up..sometimes they flag and die away for want of support, sometimes they are continued till they reach a paroxysm, and then abruptly stop.
- 1927 Travel Nov. 26/1 It is here that the electrical tension of the Equator, so violent that it contracts the nerves until they break, reaches its paroxysm.
- 2001 Utopian Stud. 12 174 The notion that it is able to provide an answer to everything: a folly by which reason has always been tempted, but which modernity has taken to a paroxysm.
- Chiefly Geol. A violent natural disturbance or catastrophic event, such as an earthquake or a volcanic eruption; a sudden change in a natural phenomenon; spec. the most violent or explosive event in a series of eruptions.
- 1668 in R. Boyle Hist. Air (1692) xv. 85 The Storm had seven Paroxysms or Exacerbations, which the Seamen call Frights of Weather.
- 1676 Philos. Trans. (Royal Soc.) 11 762 Whether the vents of the Subterraneal fire are not subject to paroxysms or great fits of eruptions at times.
- a1699 J. Beaumont Psyche (1702) vi. 84 With paroxisms of strange dismay Th'amazéd Heav'ns stood still, Earth's basis shook, The troubléd Ocean roard.
- 1749 H. Johnson tr. P. Lozano True Relation Earthquake Lima 47 The earthquakes are frequent, long and terrible, with many paroxysms in one day.
- 1869 J. Phillips Vesuvius iii. 48 In this violent paroxysm the whole top of the mountain is believed to have been swept away.
- 1877 Amer. Naturalist 11 555 The force of change resisted by heredity..determines paroxysms of more rapid movement of general evolution.
- 1944 A. Holmes Princ. Physical Geol. xx. 466 Four days after the paroxysm—the Vesuvian phase—began, it culminated in a mighty uprush of gases.
- 2002 National Geographic Feb. 134 The quick, intermittent displays—called paroxysms—that had been occurring that summer.
- As a mass noun: sudden or catastrophic change. Cf. paroxysmist n. rare.
- 1893 A. W. Momerie in J. H. Barrows World's Parl. Relig. I. 271 It is manifest that the species themselves..have been created not by paroxysm but by evolution.
- 1999 S. J. Gould in Nat. Hist. Apr. 33/3 Catastrophists argued that most geological change occurred in rare episodes of truly global paroxysm.
The Free Dictionary:
provoked, provoking, provokes
[Middle English provoken, from Old French provoquer, from Latin provocare, to challenge : pro-, forth; see vocare in Indo-European roots.]
- To incite to anger or resentment:
taunts that provoked their rivals.
- To stir to action or feeling:
a remark that provoked me to reconsider.
- To give rise to; bring about:
a miscue that provoked laughter; news that provoked an uproar.
- To bring about deliberately; induce:
provoke a fight.
Synonyms: provoke, incite, excite, stimulate, arouse, rouse, stir
These verbs mean to move a person to action or feeling or to summon something into being by so moving a person.
- Provoke often merely states the consequences produced:
"Let my presumption not provoke thy wrath" (Shakespeare).
"a situation which in the country would have provoked meetings" (John Galsworthy).
- To incite is to provoke and urge on:
Members of the opposition incited the insurrection.
- Excite implies a strong or emotional reaction:
The movie will fail--the plot excites little interest or curiosity.
- Stimulate suggests renewed vigor of action as if by spurring or goading:
"Our vigilance was stimulated by our finding traces of a large ... encampment" (Francis Parkman).
- To arouse means to awaken, as from inactivity or apathy; rouse means the same, but more strongly implies vigorous or emotional excitement:
"In a democratic society like ours, relief must come through an aroused popular conscience that sears the conscience of the people's representatives" (Felix Frankfurter).
"The oceangoing steamers ... roused in him wild and painful longings" (Arnold Bennett).
- To stir is to cause activity, strong but usually agreeable feelings, trouble, or commotion:
"It was him as stirred up th' young woman to preach last night" (George Eliot).
"I have seldom been so ... stirred by any piece of writing" (Mark Twain).
[15th century: from Latin provocare, to call forth, from vocare, to call]
- to anger or infuriate
- to cause to act or behave in a certain manner; incite or stimulate
- to promote (certain feelings, esp anger, indignation, etc) in a person
- to summon
-voked, -voking. provoker, n.
[1400–50; < Latin provocare to call forth, challenge, provoke = pro- + vocare, to call]
- to anger, exasperate, or vex.
- to stir up, arouse, or call forth (feelings, desires, or activity).
- to incite or stimulate to action.
- to give rise to, induce, or bring about.
Past participle: provoked
call forth (emotions, feelings, and responses); "arouse pity"; "raise a smile"; "evoke sympathy"; arouse, elicit, evoke, enkindle, kindle, fire, raise
- create, make - make or cause to be or to become; "make a mess in one's office"; "create a furor"
- touch a chord, strike a chord - evoke a reaction, response, or emotion; "this writer strikes a chord with young women"; "The storyteller touched a chord"
- ask for, invite - increase the likelihood of; "ask for trouble"; "invite criticism"
- draw - elicit responses, such as objections, criticism, applause, etc.; "The President's comments drew sharp criticism from the Republicans"; "The comedian drew a lot of laughter"
- rekindle - arouse again; "rekindle hopes"; "rekindle her love"
- infatuate - arouse unreasoning love or passion in and cause to behave in an irrational way; "His new car has infatuated him"; "love has infatuated her"
- prick - to cause a sharp emotional pain; "The thought of her unhappiness pricked his conscience"
- fire up, stir up, wake, heat, ignite, inflame - arouse or excite feelings and passions; "The ostentatious way of living of the rich ignites the hatred of the poor"; "The refugees' fate stirred up compassion around the world"; "Wake old feelings of hatred"
- stimulate, stir, shake up, excite, shake - stir the feelings, emotions, or peace of; "These stories shook the community"; "the civil war shook the country"
- excite - arouse or elicit a feeling
- anger - make angry; "The news angered him"
- discomfit, discompose, untune, upset, disconcert - cause to lose one's composure
- shame - cause to be ashamed
- spite, wound, bruise, injure, offend, hurt - hurt the feelings of; "She hurt me when she did not include me among her guests"; "This remark really bruised my ego"
- overwhelm, sweep over, whelm, overpower, overtake, overcome - overcome, as with emotions or perceptual stimuli
- interest - excite the curiosity of; engage the interest of
evoke or provoke to appear or occur; "Her behavior provoked a quarrel between the couple"
- call forth, evoke, kick up, bring up, call down, conjure, conjure up, invoke, call forth, put forward, arouse, evoke, stir, raise - summon into action or bring into existence, often as if by magic; "raise the specter of unemployment"; "he conjured wild birds in the air"; "call down the spirits from the mountain"
- cause, do, make - give rise to; cause to happen or occur, not always intentionally; "cause a commotion"; "make a stir"; "cause an accident"
- pick - provoke; "pick a fight or a quarrel"
provide the needed stimulus for,
- entice, lure, tempt - provoke someone to do something through (often false or exaggerated) promises or persuasion; "He lured me into temptation"
- rejuvenate - cause (a stream or river) to erode, as by an uplift of the land
- jog - stimulate to remember; "jog my memory"
- instigate, incite, stir up, set off - provoke or stir up; "incite a riot"; "set off great unrest among the people"
- challenge - issue a challenge to; "Fischer challenged Spassky to a match"
- agitate, foment, stir up - try to stir up public opinion
annoy continually or chronically; "He is known to harry his staff when he is overworked"; "This man harasses his female co-workers"
- beset, chevvy, chevy, chivvy, chivy, harass, harry, hassle, molest, plague, needle, goad - goad or provoke,as by constant criticism; "He needled her with his sarcastic remarks"
- annoy, devil, gravel, irritate, nark, rile, vex, nettle, rag, bother, chafe, get at, get to - cause annoyance in; disturb, especially by minor irritations; "Mosquitoes buzzing in my ear really bothers me"; "It irritates me that she never closes the door after she leaves"
- bedevil, dun, rag, torment, frustrate, crucify - treat cruelly; "The children tormented the stuttering teacher"
- haze - harass by imposing humiliating or painful tasks, as in military institutions
"No-one provokes me with impunity (Nemo me impune lacessit)"
- anger, insult, annoy, offend, irritate, infuriate, hassle (informal), aggravate (informal), incense, enrage, gall, put someone out, madden, exasperate, vex, affront, chafe, irk, rile, pique, get on someone's nerves (informal), get someone's back up, piss someone off (taboo slang), put someone's back up, try someone's patience, nark (Brit., Austral., & N.Z. slang), make someone's blood boil, get in someone's hair (informal), rub someone up the wrong way (informal), take a rise out of anger
Example: I didn't want to do anything to provoke him.
Antonyms: calm, appease, placate, quiet, soothe, sweeten, pacify, mollify, conciliate, propitiate
- rouse, cause, produce, lead to, move, fire, promote, occasion, excite, inspire, generate, prompt, stir, stimulate, motivate, induce, bring about, evoke, give rise to, precipitate, elicit, inflame, incite, instigate, kindle, foment, call forth, draw forth, bring on or down
Example: His comments have provoked a shocked reaction.
Antonyms: ease, relieve, moderate, modify, temper, curb, blunt, lessen, lull, allay, mitigate, abate, assuage
Motto of the Crown of Scotland and of all Scottish regiments
- To cause to feel or show anger:
anger, burn (up), enrage, incense, infuriate, madden.
Idioms: make one hot under the collar, make one's blood boil, put one's back up.
- To trouble the nerves or peace of mind of, especially by repeated vexations:
aggravate, annoy, bother, bug, chafe, disturb, exasperate, fret, gall, get, irk, irritate, nettle, peeve, put out, rile, ruffle, vex.
Idioms: get in one's hair, get on one's nerves, get under one's skin.
- To stir to action or feeling:
egg on, excite, foment, galvanize, goad, impel, incite, inflame, inspire, instigate, motivate, move, pique, prick, prod, prompt, propel, set off, spur, stimulate, touch off, trigger, work up.
- To behave so as to bring on (danger, for example):
court, invite, tempt.
- to make angry or irritated. Are you trying to provoke me?
- to cause. His words provoked laughter.
- to cause (a person etc) to react in an angry way. He was provoked into hitting her.
the act of provoking or state of being provoked.
likely to rouse feeling, especially anger or sexual interest.
provocative remarks; a provocative dress.
Washington Irving, Astoria or Anecdotes of an enterprise beyond the Rocky Mountains:--As the journals, on which I chiefly depended, had been kept by men of business, intent upon the main object of the enterprise, and but little versed in science, or curious about matters not immediately bearing upon their interest, and as they were written often in moments of fatigue or hurry, amid the inconveniences of wild encampments, they were often meagre in their details, furnishing hints to provoke rather than narratives to satisfy inquiry.
Anne Bronte, The Tenant of Wildfell Hall:--He is not always cheerful, nor always contented, and she often complains of his ill-humour, which, however, of all persons, she ought to be the last to accuse him of, as he never displays it against her, except for such conduct as would provoke a saint.
John Jay, Federalist Papers:--The number of wars which have happened or will happen in the world will always be found to be in proportion to the number and weight of the causes, whether REAL or PRETENDED, which PROVOKE or INVITE them.
Back to Top