1. strictness, severity, or harshness, as in dealing with people.
  2. the full or extreme severity of laws, rules, etc.
  3. severity of living conditions; hardship; austerity: the rigor of wartime existence.
  4. a severe or harsh act, circumstance, etc.
  5. scrupulous or inflexible accuracy or adherence: the logical rigor of mathematics.
  6. severity of weather or climate or an instance of this: the rigors of winter.
  7. Pathology. a sudden coldness, as that preceding certain fevers; chill.
  8. Physiology. a state of rigidity in muscle tissues during which they are unable to respond to stimuli due to the coagulation of muscle protein.
  9. Obsolete. stiffness or rigidity.
Also especially British, rig·our.

Origin of rigor

1350–1400; Middle English rigour < Latin rigor stiffness, equivalent to rig(ēre) to be stiff + -or -or1

Synonyms for rigor

Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for rigour

Historical Examples of rigour

  • He threatens with all the rigour of the law those who dare to give his wife an asylum.

  • But here was the man who, by every rigour of conventional life, had a right to her.

    The Prisoner

    Alice Brown

  • With November winter fell upon the land in all its sub-Arctic rigour.

    The Gaunt Gray Wolf

    Dillon Wallace

  • He was penetrated by it, absorbed by it; he was rooted in it with a rigour of dumb attention.


    Joseph Conrad

  • It was a snowy and sleety April morning, and she had already had experience of its rigour. '

    A Great Man

    Arnold Bennett

British Dictionary definitions for rigour


US rigor

  1. harsh but just treatment or action
  2. a severe or cruel circumstance; hardshipthe rigours of famine
  3. strictness, harshness, or severity of character
  4. strictness in judgment or conduct; rigorism
  5. maths logic logical validity or accuracy
  6. obsolete rigidity

Word Origin for rigour

C14: from Latin rigor


  1. med a sudden feeling of chilliness, often accompanied by shivering: it sometimes precedes a fever
  2. (ˈrɪɡə) pathol rigidity of a muscle; muscular cramp
  3. a state of rigidity assumed by some animals in reaction to sudden shock
  4. the inertia assumed by some plants in conditions unfavourable to growth

Word Origin for rigor

see rigour
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 rigour

chiefly British English spelling of rigor (q.v.); for spelling, see -or.



late 14c., from Old French rigor "strength, hardness" (13c., Modern French rigueur), from Latin rigorem (nominative rigor) "numbness, stiffness, hardness, firmness; roughness, rudeness," from rigere "be stiff" (see rigid).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

rigour in Medicine


  1. rigidity
  2. Shivering or trembling, as caused by a chill.
  3. A state of rigidity in living tissues or organs that prevents response to stimuli.
The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.