A spasm is a sudden constriction of a muscle or blood vessel. This idea can be generalized to anything that occurs suddenly and lasts a short while. Except for a brief spasm of yard work, you had a perfectly lazy Sunday.

The Greeks had a word called spasmós, which meant "to cramp or convulse." It also meant "to tear away or violently pull," which, if you've ever suffered a muscle spasm you know is a good definition. The word had a physical meaning up until around 1817, when it came to include the abstract. When you were invited to go hiking in the redwood forest, you could hardly control your spasms of joy. Make sure you stretch before hiking, so you don't get muscle spasms.

Primary Meanings of spasm

a painful and involuntary muscular contraction
(pathology) sudden constriction of a hollow organ (as a blood vessel)
Full Definitions of spasm

n a painful and involuntary muscular contraction

cramp, muscle spasm
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charley horse, charley-horse
a muscular cramp (especially in the thigh or calf) following vigorous exercise
graphospasm, writer's cramp
muscular spasms of thumb and forefinger while writing with a pen or pencil
spasm of the eyelid muscle resulting in closure of the eye
crick, kink, rick, wrick
a painful muscle spasm especially in the neck or back (`rick' and `wrick' are British)
a clonic spasm of a muscle or muscle group
severe spasm in which the back arches and the head bends back and heels flex toward the back
twitch, twitching, vellication
a sudden muscle spasm; especially one caused by a nervous condition
painful spasm of the anal sphincter along with an urgent desire to defecate without the significant production of feces; associated with irritable bowel syndrome
prolonged spasm of the jaw muscles
a local and habitual twitching especially in the face
condition in which a person blinks continuously
muscular twitching involving individual muscle fibers acting without coordination
muscular twitching of contiguous groups of muscle fibers
Type of:
(medicine) any sensation or change in bodily function that is experienced by a patient and is associated with a particular disease

n (pathology) sudden constriction of a hollow organ (as a blood vessel)

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a spasm of the bronchi that makes exhalation difficult and noisy; associated with asthma and bronchitis
a spasm of the cardiac sphincter (between the esophagus and the stomach); if the cardiac sphincter does not relax during swallowing the passage of food into the stomach is obstructed
heave, retch
an involuntary spasm of ineffectual vomiting
laryngeal spasm caused by the sudden contraction of laryngeal muscles
Type of:
the action or process of compressing

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