rigor mortis

[rig-er mawr-tis, or, esp. British, rahy-gawr]
the stiffening of the body after death.

1830–40; < Latin: literally, stiffness of death

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World English Dictionary
rigor mortis (ˈrɪɡə ˈmɔːtɪs)
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
[C19: Latin, literally: rigidity of death]

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American Heritage
Medical Dictionary

rigor mortis rigor mor·tis (môr'tĭs)
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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American Heritage
Science Dictionary
rigor mortis   (rĭg'ər môr'tĭs)  Pronunciation Key 
Muscular stiffening following death, resulting from the unavailability of energy needed to interrupt contraction of the muscle fibers.
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Copyright © 2002. Published by Houghton Mifflin. All rights reserved.
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American Heritage
Cultural Dictionary
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
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