nervous disease, 1801, coined in medical Latin as an abstract noun from Greek hystera "womb," from PIE *udtero-, variant of *udero- "abdomen, womb, stomach" (see uterus). Originally defined as a neurotic condition peculiar to women and thought to be caused by a dysfunction of the uterus. With abstract noun ending -ia. General sense of "unhealthy emotion or excitement" is by 1839.
updated on September 23, 2015