rig·or | \ˈri-gər \

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

When the high schoolers needed a break from the rigors of Composition No. Seth Colter Walls, New York Times, "High School Musicians Take On the (Almost) Unplayable," 8 June 2018 The place offers a playful escape from the rigors of serious everyday realities, and Hyundai looks to do the same with this brand-new compact crossover. John Scott Lewinski, Ars Technica, "The Hyundai Kona: A well-equipped crossover starting at just $19,500," 30 Apr. 2018 Baltimore center Ryan Jensen, 26, emerged in his first full season as a starter and could bring a nastiness the Bengals staff has always sought in their linemen and knowledge of handling the rigors of the AFC North. Jim Owczarski, Cincinnati.com, "BX: How will Bengals' offensive line transform?," 26 Jan. 2018 Military veterans, accustomed to the rigors of discipline, hard work and getting their hands dirty, are well-suited to agriculture careers. Christopher Carbone, Fox News, "Farming nonprofit helps vets with PTSD reintegrate into civilian life," 4 July 2018 Carmen Cusack got a Tony nomination in her Broadway debut, and Audrey Cardwell (who took over this touring role in March) touches all the emotional bases: giddiness, melancholy, infatuation, lust, intellectual rigor and more. Lawrence Toppman, charlotteobserver, "‘Bright Star,’ a musical tale of NC mountain life, glows steadily and endearingly," 27 June 2018 Best Headphones for the Gym: JLab Audio Epic Sport Wireless The Epic Sport should be able to withstand the rigors of your workout, thanks to serious water and dust resistance, as well as JLab’s signature bendable earhooks. Reviewed Staff, USA TODAY, "The 24 best Father's Day gifts of 2018," 8 June 2018 Questions about the academic rigor of the Christian textbooks, widely used by private schools across the country, are not new. Leslie Postal, OrlandoSentinel.com, "Private schools' curriculum downplays slavery, says humans and dinosaurs lived together," 1 June 2018 White House Chief of Staff John Kelly has receded somewhat from public view, especially compared with the early months of his tenure, when the retired four-star Marine general attempted to impose military rigor and discipline on a chaotic operation. Author: Ashley Parker, Josh Dawsey, Philip Rucker, Anchorage Daily News, "With new West Wing cast, Trump calls shots, aides follow," 29 May 2018

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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Dictionary Entries near rigor






rigor mortis


Statistics for rigor

Last Updated

17 Oct 2018

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Time Traveler for rigor

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

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More Definitions for rigor



English Language Learners Definition of rigor

rigors : 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 \

Kids Definition of rigor

: a harsh condition (as of discipline)


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

Medical Definition of rigor 

1a : chill sense 1

b : a tremor caused by a chill

2a : rigidity or torpor of organs or tissue that prevents response to stimuli

b : rigor mortis

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Comments on rigor

What made you want to look up rigor? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


exaggeratedly or childishly emotional

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