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

But for all its rigor, there’s also loads of charm to be found in this medieval-tinged metropolis: Winding, cobblestone streets, centuries-old churches, and high design-minded, albeit unpretentious boutiques are just a few of the high notes. Condé Nast Traveler, "The Best Cities in the World: 2018 Readers' Choice Awards," 9 Oct. 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, "Nonprofit teaches farming to vets, helps to reintegrate them into civilian life," 2 Oct. 2018 Jesuits, members of the Society of Jesus founded by St. Ignatius Loyola in 1534, are today best known for founding and running universities, their intellectual rigor and range and their tolerance of other faiths. Elaine Ayala, San Antonio Express-News, "Pope documentary inspires S.A. believers," 26 May 2018 Some critics of the New York proposal worry that the academic rigor and achievement culture established at these high schools could be in jeopardy. Harry Bruinius, The Christian Science Monitor, "'Keep the test!' A debate flares over exam-based public high schools.," 6 July 2018 Even then, however, D’Souza’s academic rigor was gilt, not gold. Sarah Jones, The New Republic, "Grifters All the Way Down," 31 May 2018 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

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


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14 Nov 2018

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Time Traveler for rigor

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

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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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More from Merriam-Webster on rigor

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with rigor

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for 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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