rig·​or | \ ˈri-gər How to pronounce rigor (audio) \

Definition of rigor

1a(1) : harsh inflexibility in opinion, temper, or judgment : severity The least one might observe is that this muddle of moralism and laxity, extreme rigor and casual permissiveness, arduous altruism and nonchalant selfishness, has consequences.— Peter Berkowitz
(2) : the quality of being unyielding or inflexible : strictness Their abandonment of this terminology is part of an effort to soften the rigor of some of the rigid consequences thought to flow from the mechanical application of this dichotomy.— John D. Calamari and Joseph M. Perillo
(3) : severity of life : austerity … a moral rigor and growth that might help this country.— Stanley Kauffmann
b : an act or instance of strictness, severity, or cruelty … the humanist must recognize the normality, the practical necessity of the very rigors he is trying to soften and correct.— Hermann J. Muller
2 : a tremor caused by a chill This young woman presented at the hospital with severe abdominal pain and signs of infection, including fever, rigor, and leukocytosis.— Robert E. Scully et al.
3 : a condition that makes life difficult, challenging, or uncomfortable especially : extremity of cold the rigors of a New England winter
4 : strict precision : exactness logical rigor Tentatively one might suggest that what characterizes science is the rigor of its methodology …— Ernst Mayr
5a obsolete : rigidity, stiffness
b : rigidness or torpor of organs or tissue that prevents response to stimuli
c : rigor mortis A fish has its best flavor and texture when cooked while just coming out of rigor.— Jane Daniels Lear

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Examples of rigor in a Sentence

They underwent the rigors of military training. the rigors of life in the wilderness They conducted the experiments with scientific rigor. a scholar known for her intellectual rigor
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Recent Examples on the Web The record infuses the rigor and intentionality of contemporary classical into an unapologetic expression of middle-American emotion that has historically been achieved by rock, folk and blues. Rianna Turner, Forbes, "Nashville Instrumentalist Lydia Luce Finds Her Voice On ‘Dark River’," 25 Feb. 2021 In fact, Reed is renowned for an absence of grade inflation that reflects the rigor of our academic program and the high standards set by the faculty. WSJ, "Does Respectable Mediocrity Offend Nobody?," 15 Feb. 2021 Underappreciated as a part of police work, the skill can improve the rigor of investigations, translating into fewer false confessions and wrongful convictions – and fewer lawsuits against officers. Jacob Turcotte, The Christian Science Monitor, "Shootings by police: Would hiring older recruits stem the tide?," 3 Feb. 2021 More important will be the rigor of the area of study and the brand of the institution. Isaac Cheifetz, Star Tribune, "What is the future of degrees earned online?," 5 Dec. 2020 European regulators on Wednesday cast doubt on the rigor of Britain’s review and said that the authorization was limited to specific batches of the vaccine, a claim that Pfizer denied and British officials did not address. Benjamin Mueller, New York Times, "U.K. Approves Pfizer Coronavirus Vaccine, a First in the West," 2 Dec. 2020 This experience demonstrates the rigor of America’s vaccine safety and oversight processes and how quickly authorities act if there is a problem. Wayne C. Koff And Michelle A. Williams, STAT, "Covid-19 vaccines are safe. But let’s be clear about what ‘safe’ means," 23 Dec. 2020 Floyd’s flexible rigor over the long haul has produced a body of work with a distinctive power. Johanna Fateman, The New Yorker, "The Photographer Who Set Out to Watch Herself Age," 16 Dec. 2020 The work also suggests new ways in which psychologists could improve the rigor and reliability of future studies. Simon Makin, Scientific American, "Hypnosis Experts Cast Doubt on Famous Psychological Experiments," 21 Oct. 2020

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'rigor.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of rigor

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a(1)

History and Etymology for rigor

Middle English rigour, from Anglo-French, from Latin rigor, literally, stiffness, from rigēre to be stiff

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Time Traveler for rigor

Time Traveler

The first known use of rigor was in the 14th century

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Statistics for rigor

Last Updated

5 Mar 2021

Cite this Entry

“Rigor.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/rigor. Accessed 7 Mar. 2021.

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More Definitions for rigor



English Language Learners Definition of rigor

: the difficult and unpleasant conditions or experiences that are associated with something
: the quality or state of being very exact, careful, or strict


rig·​or | \ ˈri-gər How to pronounce rigor (audio) \

Kids Definition of rigor

: a harsh condition (as of discipline)


rig·​or | \ ˈrig-ər, British also ˈrī-ˌgȯr \

Medical Definition of rigor

b : a tremor caused by a chill
2a : rigidity or torpor of organs or tissue that prevents response to stimuli

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More from Merriam-Webster on rigor

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for rigor

Nglish: Translation of rigor for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of rigor for Arabic Speakers

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