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 rigors of fasting have birthed a range of social customs. Ben Hubbard, New York Times, "A Ramadan Like No Other: Images From Around the World," 25 Apr. 2020 Yair Lapid, a former journalist and senior figure in Blue and White, said the rigors of a long campaign have made Gantz a more mature candidate. Washington Post, "Benny Gantz had two shots to oust Israel’s Netanyahu. He hopes the third time is the charm.," 10 Feb. 2020 Because rigor in politics is waning, the old disciplines are not holding, old responsibilities are being thrown off. Peggy Noonan, WSJ, "The Democrats’ Unserious Week," 6 Feb. 2020 The Hawks haven’t had to turn to the IceHogs often, but now that the rigors of an NHL season are starting to take their toll the Rockford pipeline likely will be more active. Jimmy Greenfield, chicagotribune.com, "Blackhawks have started dipping into their pipeline for reinforcements. Who might be the next up from the Rockford IceHogs?," 28 Nov. 2019 Instructional excellence, scholarly rigor and continuous improvement are key values in our commitment to both our students and to the State of Minnesota. Letter Writers, Twin Cities, "Letters: St. Paul College addressing problems, holds firm to standards of excellence," 18 Nov. 2019 Researchers have also looked to privately run surveys, which have more up-to-date data, but lack the same methodological rigor and history as the government data. Dan Kopf, Quartz, "Three key concepts for interpreting data in the age of coronavirus," 25 Apr. 2020 And despite the sheer number of scientists involved in these efforts, the scientific method requires a rigor that can only be sped up so much. NBC News, "Scientists, under pressure, try to balance speed and safety on coronavirus vaccine research," 21 Mar. 2020 The inclination to trade off rigor for the sake of speed appears at every level of research. Christie Aschwanden, Wired, "Stop Getting So Excited About ‘Preliminary’ Findings," 24 Apr. 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

29 May 2020

Cite this Entry

“Rigor.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/rigor. Accessed 3 Jun. 2020.

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More Definitions for rigor


How to pronounce rigor (audio)

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

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with rigor

Spanish Central: Translation of rigor

Nglish: Translation of rigor for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of rigor for Arabic Speakers

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