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[tet-n-uh s] /ˈtɛt n əs/
Pathology. an infectious, often fatal disease caused by a specific bacterium that enters the body through wounds and characterized by respiratory paralysis and tonic spasms and rigidity of the voluntary muscles, especially those of the neck and lower jaw.
Compare lockjaw.
Also called tetanus bacillus. Bacteriology. the bacterium, Clostridium tetani, causing this disease.
Physiology. a state of sustained contraction of a muscle during which the muscle does not relax to its initial length or tension, induced by a rapid succession of stimuli.
Origin of tetanus
1350-1400; < Latin < Greek tétanos spasm (of muscles), tetanus; replacing Middle English tetane < Latin, as above
Related forms
tetanal, adjective
tetanoid, adjective Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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British Dictionary definitions for tetanoid


Also called lockjaw. an acute infectious disease in which sustained muscular spasm, contraction, and convulsion are caused by the release of exotoxins from the bacterium, Clostridium tetani: infection usually occurs through a contaminated wound
(physiol) any tense contraction of a muscle, esp when produced by electric shocks
Derived Forms
tetanal, adjective
tetanoid, adjective
Word Origin
C16: via Latin from Greek tetanos, from tetanos taut, from teinein to stretch
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for tetanoid



late 14c., from Latin tetanus, from Greek tetanos "muscular spasm," literally "a stretching, tension," from teinein "to stretch" (see tenet); so called because the disease is characterized by violent spasms and stiffness of muscles.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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tetanoid in Medicine

tetanoid tet·a·noid (tět'n-oid')

  1. Resembling tetanus.

  2. Resembling tetany.

tetanus tet·a·nus (tět'n-əs)

  1. An acute, often fatal disease that is characterized by spasmodic contraction of voluntary muscles, especially one occurring in the neck and jaw, and that is caused by the neurotoxin Clostridium tetani, which typically infects the body through a deep wound. Also called lockjaw.

  2. A state of continuous muscular contraction, especially when induced artificially by rapidly repeated stimuli.

The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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tetanoid in Science
An acute, often fatal infectious disease caused by the bacterium Clostridium tetani, which usually enters the body through a wound and produces a toxin that affects nerve conduction. Tetanus is characterized by painful, spasmodic contractions of voluntary muscles, especially of the jaw.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary
Copyright © 2002. Published by Houghton Mifflin. All rights reserved.
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tetanoid in Culture
tetanus [(tet-n-uhs, tet-nuhs)]

An acute and infectious disease caused by the toxin produced by a kind of bacteria that enters the body through cuts or wounds; also called lockjaw. In tetanus, the muscles of the body, particularly the muscles of the jaw, contract in painful spasms. Tetanus is deadly but can be prevented through immunization (tetanus shots).

The 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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