• synonyms


[triz-muh s, tris-]
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noun, plural tris·mus·es. Pathology.
  1. a spasm of the jaw muscles that makes it difficult to open the mouth.
  2. lockjaw.
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Origin of trismus

1685–95; < New Latin < Greek trismós a grinding
Related formstris·mic, adjective
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Related Words


Examples from the Web for trismus

Historical Examples

  • He was doing well until nearly a fortnight after the injury, when nervous irritation and trismus set in, and he sank.

    A Treatise on Gunshot Wounds

    Thomas Longmore

  • He also reports cases in which trismus and spasm of the glottis have been present.

  • The doctor goes into an explanation, which lasts a quarter of an hour, of the trismus, employing the most scientific terms.

  • In a few cases epileptic attacks and trismus have been observed.

  • The symptoms of poisoning by this species are spasms, similar to those of trismus, and agonizing general pains.

    Average Jones

    Samuel Hopkins Adams

British Dictionary definitions for trismus


  1. pathol the state or condition of being unable to open the mouth because of sustained contractions of the jaw muscles, caused by a form of tetanusNontechnical name: lockjaw
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Derived Formstrismic, adjective

Word Origin

C17: from New Latin, from Greek trismos a grinding
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 trismus


1690s, Modern Latin, from Greek trismos "a scream; a grinding, rasping," akin to trizein "to chirp, gnash."

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

trismus in Medicine


  1. A firm closing of the jaw due to tonic spasm of the muscles of mastication from disease of the motor branch of the trigeminal nerve. It is usually associated with general tetanus.lockjaw
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The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.