If you see someone have a convulsion, it can either be scary or funny, depending on whether it's caused by a medical condition or a really funny joke. A convulsion is a jerking, uncontrolled movement.

When a person has a convulsion, it appears as a sudden, violent movement of the body. Convulsions most often happen as a result of a medical condition or illness like epilepsy, but you can also describe a jerky, irregular movement as a convulsion, even if it's caused by hiccups or laughter. A political upheaval or social turmoil can also be called a convulsion, if it's abrupt and violent. The Latin root word is convulsionem, which means "to tear loose."

Definitions of convulsion

n violent uncontrollable contractions of muscles

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convulsion characterized by alternating contractions and relaxations
epileptic seizure
convulsions accompanied by impaired consciousness
epilepsia major, generalized seizure, grand mal
a seizure during which the patient becomes unconscious and has convulsions over the entire body
epilepsia minor, petit mal
a seizure of short duration characterized by momentary unconsciousness and local muscle spasms or twitching
Type of:
ictus, raptus, seizure
a sudden occurrence (or recurrence) of a disease

n a sudden uncontrollable attack

convulsions of laughter”
fit, paroxysm
Type of:
a sudden occurrence of an uncontrollable condition

n a physical disturbance such as an earthquake or upheaval

Type of:
an event causing distress or pain

n a violent disturbance

“the convulsions of the stock market”
turmoil, upheaval
Type of:
commotion, disruption, disturbance, flutter, hoo-ha, hoo-hah, hurly burly, kerfuffle, to-do
a disorderly outburst or tumult

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