Meaning of “hysterical” in the English Dictionary

"hysterical" in British English

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uk /hɪˈster.ɪ.kəl/ us /hɪˈster.ɪ.kəl/

C1 unable to control your feelings or behaviour because you are extremely frightened, angry, excited, etc.:

Calm down, you're getting hysterical.
The police were accused of hysterical over-reaction.

informal extremely funny:

His last film was hysterical.

More examples

  • I suspect the doctor thought I was just another hysterical female, getting all worked up about nothing.
  • She rang up in a hysterical state, saying that her husband had slapped her.
  • All right, calm down, don't get hysterical. There's a lot of blood, but actually it's not that serious.
  • There was a predictably hysterical reaction from the press when the news was announced.
  • The victim's wife was hysterical with grief and had to be sedated.
adverb uk /hɪˈster.ɪ.kəl.i/ us /hɪˈster.ɪ.kəl.i/

She started laughing/crying hysterically.

(Definition of “hysterical” from the Cambridge Advanced Learner’s Dictionary & Thesaurus © Cambridge University Press)

"hysterical" in American English

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us /hɪˈster·ɪ·kəl/

unable to control your emotions or behavior because you are very frightened, excited, etc.:

Calm down, you’re getting hysterical.
She broke into hysterical laughter (= laughter that is uncontrollable).
infml That joke was hysterical (= extremely amusing).
adverb [ not gradable ] us /hɪˈster·ɪk·li/

Gillian was laughing/crying hysterically.

(Definition of “hysterical” from the Cambridge Academic Content Dictionary © Cambridge University Press)