rigor mortis

[rig-er mawr-tis, or, esp. British, rahy-gawr]
See more synonyms for rigor mortis on Thesaurus.com

Origin of rigor mortis

1830–40; < Latin: literally, stiffness of death
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

British Dictionary definitions for rigor mortis

rigor mortis

  1. pathol the stiffness of joints and muscular rigidity of a dead body, caused by depletion of ATP in the tissues. It begins two to four hours after death and lasts up to about four days, after which the muscles and joints relax

Word Origin for rigor mortis

C19: Latin, literally: rigidity of death
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

Word Origin and History for rigor mortis

"stiffening of the body caused by contraction of muscles after death," 1837, from Latin rigor "stiffness" (see rigor) + mortis, genitive of mors "death" (see mortal).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

rigor mortis in Medicine

rigor mortis

  1. Muscular stiffening following death.postmortem rigidity
The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.

rigor mortis in Science

rigor mortis

[rĭgər môrtĭs]
  1. Muscular stiffening following death, resulting from the unavailability of energy needed to interrupt contraction of the muscle fibers.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary Copyright © 2011. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.

rigor mortis in Culture

rigor mortis

[(rig-uhr mawr-tis)]

Stiffening of the muscles of the body that occurs after death. Rigor mortis is Latin for “stiffness of death.”


Figuratively, rigor mortis refers to an absence of flexibility or vitality: “By the time the school finally closed, rigor mortis had set in in nearly every department.”
The New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.