Love words? Sign up for our Word of the Day!
late 14c., from Latin tetanus, from Greek tetanos "muscular spasm," literally "a stretching, tension," from teinein "to stretch" (see tenet); so called because the disease is characterized by violent spasms and stiffness of muscles.
tetanus tet·a·nus (tět'n-əs)
An acute, often fatal disease that is characterized by spasmodic contraction of voluntary muscles, especially one occurring in the neck and jaw, and that is caused by the neurotoxin Clostridium tetani, which typically infects the body through a deep wound. Also called lockjaw.
A state of continuous muscular contraction, especially when induced artificially by rapidly repeated stimuli.
An acute, often fatal infectious disease caused by the bacterium Clostridium tetani, which usually enters the body through a wound and produces a toxin that affects nerve conduction. Tetanus is characterized by painful, spasmodic contractions of voluntary muscles, especially of the jaw.
An acute and infectious disease caused by the toxin produced by a kind of bacteria that enters the body through cuts or wounds; also called lockjaw. In tetanus, the muscles of the body, particularly the muscles of the jaw, contract in painful spasms. Tetanus is deadly but can be prevented through immunization (tetanus shots).