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Abnormal irritability or sensitivity of an organ or a body part to stimulation.

[French éréthisme, from Greek erethisma, a provocation, from erethizein, to irritate.]

er′e·this′mic (-mĭk) adj.
American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition. Copyright © 2016 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.


1. (Pathology) physiol an abnormally high degree of irritability or sensitivity in any part of the body
2. (Psychiatry) psychiatry
a. a personality disorder resulting from mercury poisoning
b. an abnormal tendency to become aroused quickly, esp sexually, as the result of a verbal or psychic stimulus
[C18: from French éréthisme, from Greek erethismos irritation, from erethizein to excite, irritate]
ˌereˈthismic, ˌereˈthistic, ˌereˈthitic, ˈerethic adj
Collins English Dictionary – Complete and Unabridged, 12th Edition 2014 © HarperCollins Publishers 1991, 1994, 1998, 2000, 2003, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2011, 2014


(ˈɛr əˌθɪz əm)

an unusual or excessive degree of irritability or stimulation in an organ or tissue.
[1790–1800; < French éréthisme < Greek erethismós irritation =ereth(ízein) to irritate + -ismos -ism]
er`e•this′mic, er`e•this′tic (-ˈθɪs tɪk) er`e•thit′ic (-ˈθɪt ɪk) adj.
Random House Kernerman Webster's College Dictionary, © 2010 K Dictionaries Ltd. Copyright 2005, 1997, 1991 by Random House, Inc. All rights reserved.


1. an excessive irritability or sensibility to stimulation in any part of the body, especially the sexual organs.
2. a psychic disturbance characterized by irritability, emotional instability, depression, shyness, and fatigue, often caused by toxicity. — erethistic, erethitic, adj.
See also: Disease and Illness
-Ologies & -Isms. Copyright 2008 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
ThesaurusAntonymsRelated WordsSynonymsLegend:
Noun1.erethism - an abnormally high degree of irritability or sensitivity to stimulation of an organ or body part
abnormalcy, abnormality - an abnormal physical condition resulting from defective genes or developmental deficiencies
Based on WordNet 3.0, Farlex clipart collection. © 2003-2012 Princeton University, Farlex Inc.
References in classic literature ?
The intense excitement of the events had no doubt left my perceptive powers in a state of erethism. I remember that dinner table with extraordinary vividness even now.
The major clinical features of chronic mercury poisoning include tremors, psychological disturbances, erethism, and gingivitis [2, 7].
Manifestations of poisoning occurring after some time of exposure to mercury vapors have been called erethism syndrome, characterized by irritability, anxiety, mood lability and impaired sociability, shyness, lack of interest in life, and low self-confidence followed by depression, delirium, hallucinations, fatigue, depression and memory loss (Carocci, Rovito, Sinicropi, & Genchi, 2014).
Occupational exposure has resulted in broad-ranging functional disturbance, including erethism, irritability, excitability, excessive shyness, and insomnia.
He characterizes these as "affective erethism" (41, 130), "affective tetanization" (92), and "affective ankylosis" (101).
On the other side, he sees everywhere an African "erethism," a state in which the Black nervous system is poisoned and experiences unbearable sensitivity.