- In medicine, a paroxysm is a violent attack. It may be due to the sudden occurrence of symptoms or the acute exacerbation (the abrupt worsening) of preexisting symptoms. You may have "a paroxysm of coughing" as opposed, for example, to "a lingering cough." The word "paroxysm" comes from the Greek "para-," during + "oxys," sharp or acute. The root "oxys" was also used by the founder of modern chemistry Antoine-Laurent Lavoisier (1743-94) to coin the word "oxygen."
* * *1. A sharp spasm or convulsion. 2. A sudden onset of a symptom or disease, especially one with recurrent manifestations such as the chills and rigor of malaria. [G. paroxysmos, fr. paroxyno, to sharpen, irritate, fr. oxys, sharp]
* * *par·ox·ysm 'par-ək-.siz-əmalso pə-'räk- n1) a sudden attack or spasm (as of a disease)2) a sudden recurrence of symptoms or an intensification of existing symptoms <pain occurred in frequent \paroxysms (Therapeutic Notes)>
* * *n.1. a sudden violent attack, especially a spasm or convulsion.2. the abrupt worsening of symptoms or recurrence of disease.• paroxysmal adj.
* * *par·ox·ysm (parґok-siz-əm) [Gr. paroxysmos] 1. a sudden recurrence or intensification of symptoms. 2. a spasm or seizure.
Medical dictionary. 2011.