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rigor mortis

[rig-er mawr-tis, or, esp. British, rahy-gawr] /ˈrɪg ər ˈmɔr tɪs, or, esp. British, ˈraɪ gɔr/
noun
1.
the stiffening of the body after death.
Origin of rigor mortis
1830-1840
1830-40; < Latin: literally, stiffness of death
Dictionary.com Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for rigor mortis
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • The flesh had become cold and rigor mortis was beginning to set in.

  • "rigor mortis," Doc Candle diagnosed, with a wink to Collins.

    The Last Place on Earth James Judson Harmon
  • But if it happened just before he died, rigor mortis would preserve the mark.

    The Mystery Girl Carolyn Wells
  • We know that the phenomena of rigor mortis had already set in before his body reached London.

    The Grey Room Eden Phillpotts
  • Though the rigor mortis had not set in, he had evidently been dead some time.

  • His limbs had not lost their suppleness; the rigor mortis does not come, for a long time, to those who die by accident.

  • But death is there all the same, life has utterly departed, and suddenly comes the rigor mortis.

    Lord Randolph Churchill Winston Spencer Churchill
  • rigor mortis is generally slight, and, according to Lind and to von Opitz, decomposition takes place rapidly.

    Scurvy Past and Present Alfred Fabian Hess
British Dictionary definitions for rigor mortis

rigor mortis

/ˈrɪɡə ˈmɔːtɪs/
noun
1.
(pathol) the stiffness of joints and muscular rigidity of a dead body, caused by depletion of ATP in the tissues. It begins two to four hours after death and lasts up to about four days, after which the muscles and joints relax
Word Origin
C19: Latin, literally: rigidity of death
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
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Word Origin and History for rigor mortis

"stiffening of the body caused by contraction of muscles after death," 1837, from Latin rigor "stiffness" (see rigor) + mortis, genitive of mors "death" (see mortal).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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rigor mortis in Medicine

rigor mortis rigor mor·tis (môr'tĭs)
n.
Muscular stiffening following death. Also called postmortem rigidity.

The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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rigor mortis in Science
rigor mortis
  (rĭg'ər môr'tĭs)   
Muscular stiffening following death, resulting from the unavailability of energy needed to interrupt contraction of the muscle fibers.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary
Copyright © 2002. Published by Houghton Mifflin. All rights reserved.
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rigor mortis in Culture
rigor mortis [(rig-uhr mawr-tis)]

Stiffening of the muscles of the body that occurs after death. Rigor mortis is Latin for “stiffness of death.”

Note: Figuratively, rigor mortis refers to an absence of flexibility or vitality: “By the time the school finally closed, rigor mortis had set in in nearly every department.”
The American Heritage® New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition
Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Company.
Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.
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