Paroxysm

Definition: sudden outburst or intensification of something

In medicine, a “paroxysmal attack” is when someone’s previously manageable symptoms suddenly intensify, like a coughing attack, or difficulty breathing.

Why I Looked It Up

From the lede of a NY Times article about the Bloody Sunday conflict in Northern Ireland.

The events themselves took a matter of minutes to unfold in a paroxysm of one-sided gunfire that snuffed out more than a dozen lives, each one of them a new martyr in Northern Ireland’s somber annals of loss.

Postscript

Added on May 18, 2022

In a discussion about Shaka Zulu who went on a rampage after his mother died:

About 7,000 Zulus were killed in the initial paroxysm of his grief…

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