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See more synonyms for tetany on Thesaurus.com
noun Pathology.
  1. a state marked by severe, intermittent tonic contractions and muscular pain, due to abnormal calcium metabolism.
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Origin of tetany

From the New Latin word tetania, dating back to 1880–85. See tetanus, -y3
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for tetany

Historical Examples

  • Gerhardt looks upon rachitis as one of the causes of tetany.

    A System of Practical Medicine By American Authors, Vol. II


  • When tetany follows operations for goitre it is due to the removal of these glands.

  • Trousseau's sign is the production of tetany by applying firm and prolonged pressure to the brachial nerve in the upper arm.

    The Nervous Child

    Hector Charles Cameron

  • Convulsions, laryngismus stridulus, tetany, or carpopedal spasm are all frequently met with.

    The Nervous Child

    Hector Charles Cameron

British Dictionary definitions for tetany


  1. pathol an abnormal increase in the excitability of nerves and muscles resulting in spasms of the arms and legs, caused by a deficiency of parathyroid secretion
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Word Origin

C19: from French tétanie. See tetanus
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 tetany


1890, from French tétanie "intermitent tetanus," from Modern Latin tetania (see tetanus).

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

tetany in Medicine


  1. An abnormal condition characterized by periodic painful muscular spasms and tremors, caused by faulty calcium metabolism and associated with diminished function of the parathyroid glands.intermittent cramp intermittent tetanus
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The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.