noun Chiefly British.




strictness, severity, or harshness, as in dealing with people.
the full or extreme severity of laws, rules, etc.
severity of living conditions; hardship; austerity: the rigor of wartime existence.
a severe or harsh act, circumstance, etc.
scrupulous or inflexible accuracy or adherence: the logical rigor of mathematics.
severity of weather or climate or an instance of this: the rigors of winter.
Pathology. a sudden coldness, as that preceding certain fevers; chill.
Physiology. a state of rigidity in muscle tissues during which they are unable to respond to stimuli due to the coagulation of muscle protein.
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 rigours

Contemporary Examples of rigours

Historical Examples of rigours

  • Then the rigours of my captivity were still further increased.

  • Are the northern kingdoms of Europe bare of life because of the winter rigours?'

    The Frozen Pirate

    W. Clark Russell

  • He's going to live on deck to inure himself to the rigours of the Arctic climate.

    The Trail of '98

    Robert W. Service

  • Then you experienced the rigours of intolerance there, in some measure, did you?

    The Printer Boy.

    William M. Thayer

  • The lady must depart; if she goes not, the rigours of the law will crush her.

British Dictionary definitions for rigours



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

Word Origin for rigor

see rigour


US rigor


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

Word Origin for rigour

C14: from Latin rigor
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 rigours



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).



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

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

rigours in Medicine




Shivering or trembling, as caused by a chill.
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.