[rig-er mawr-tis, or, esp. British, rahy-gawr]
- the stiffening of the body after death.
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
- 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
C19: Latin, literally: rigidity of death
Word Origin and History for rigor mortis
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
- Muscular stiffening following death.postmortem rigidity
- 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.
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.