[ tuh-nez-muh s, -nes- ]
/ təˈnɛz məs, -ˈnɛs- /

noun Pathology.

a straining to urinate or defecate, without the ability to do so.

Origin of tenesmus

1520–30; < Medieval Latin, variant of Latin tēnesmos < Greek teinesmós, equivalent to teín(ein) to stretch + -esmos noun suffix
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Examples from the Web for tenesmus

British Dictionary definitions for tenesmus


/ (tɪˈnɛzməs, -ˈnɛs-) /


pathol an ineffective painful straining to empty the bowels in response to the sensation of a desire to defecate, without producing a significant quantity of faeces

Derived Forms

tenesmic, adjective

Word Origin for tenesmus

C16: from Medieval Latin, from Latin tēnesmos, from Greek teinesmos, from teinein to strain
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

Medicine definitions for tenesmus


[ tə-nĕzməs ]


A painful spasm of the anal sphincter accompanied by an urgent desire to evacuate the bowel or bladder and involuntary straining that results in the passing of little or no matter.
The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.