[hi-ster-ee-uh, -steer-]
an uncontrollable outburst of emotion or fear, often characterized by irrationality, laughter, weeping, etc.
Psychoanalysis. a psychoneurotic disorder characterized by violent emotional outbreaks, disturbances of sensory and motor functions, and various abnormal effects due to autosuggestion.
Psychiatry. conversion disorder.
Compare mass hysteria.

1795–1805; hyster(ic) + -ia

subhysteria, noun
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World English Dictionary
hysteria (hɪˈstɪərɪə)
1.  See also conversion disorder a mental disorder characterized by emotional outbursts, susceptibility to autosuggestion, and, often, symptoms such as paralysis that mimic the effects of physical disorders
2.  any frenzied emotional state, esp of laughter or crying
[C19: from New Latin, from Latin hystericushysteric]

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition
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Word Origin & History

1801, coined in medical L. as an abstract noun from hysteric (see hysterical).
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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American Heritage
Medical Dictionary

hysteria hys·ter·i·a (hĭ-stěr'ē-ə, -stēr'-)

  1. A neurosis characterized by the presentation of a physical ailment without an organic cause, such as amnesia.

  2. Excessive or uncontrollable emotion, such as fear.

hys·ter'ic (hĭ-stěr'ĭk) or hys·ter'i·cal (hĭ-stěr'ĭ-kəl) adj.
The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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American Heritage
Cultural Dictionary

hysteria definition

A complex neurosis in which psychological conflict is turned into physical symptoms, such as amnesia, blindness, and paralysis, that have no underlying physical cause. Early in his career, Sigmund Freud worked on hysteria.

The American Heritage® New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition
Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Company.
Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.
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Example sentences
This hysteria has to stop.
Winners will be determined by audience hysteria.
This kind of non-thinking and stereotypically-driven hysteria has no place
  among civilized people.
Passengers had described the scene as mass hysteria.
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