[ rik-tuhs ]

noun,plural ric·tus, ric·tus·es.
  1. the gape of the mouth of a bird.

  2. the gaping or opening of the mouth.

Origin of rictus

1750–60; <Latin: wide-open mouth, equivalent to rig-, variant stem of ringī to open the mouth wide + -tus suffix of v. action.

Other words from rictus

  • rictal, adjective
  • sub·ric·tal, adjective

Words Nearby rictus

Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023

How to use rictus in a sentence

  • The lovely lips twisted into a rictus sneer, frightening on that smooth young face, until she got them under control.

  • Then his mouth twisted in a rictus of dreadful mirth, so wrung was he with pain, yet so overcome by what he had seen.

  • Vargus grinned suddenly, a momentary rictus that came and went, utterly horrible.

    The Air Pirate | Cyril Arthur Edward Ranger Gull
  • rictus ampli, ad mandibul superioris basin vibrissis rigidis armati.

  • He lay back on the pillows again, with a smile that was twisted into a rictus of agony as a twinge wrung the injured limb.

British Dictionary definitions for rictus


/ (ˈrɪktəs) /

nounplural -tus or -tuses
  1. the gap or cleft of an open mouth or beak

  2. a fixed or unnatural grin or grimace, as in horror or death

Origin of rictus

C18: from Latin, from ringī to gape

Derived forms of rictus

  • rictal, adjective

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