"sudden attack, convulsion," early 15c., from Middle French paroxysme (16c.), earlier paroxime (13c.), from Medieval Latin paroxysmus "irritation, fit of a disease," from Greek paroxysmos "irritation, exasperation," from paroxynein "to irritate, goad, provoke," from para- "beyond" (see para- (1)) + oxynein "sharpen, goad," from oxys "sharp, pointed" (from PIE root *ak- "be sharp, rise (out) to a point, pierce" ). Non-medical sense first attested c. 1600. Related: Paroxysmal.
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