rigor mortis

noun
rig·​or mor·​tis | \ˌri-gər-ˈmȯr-təs also chiefly British ˌrī-ˌgȯ-ˈmȯ-təs \

Definition of rigor mortis 

: temporary rigidity of muscles occurring after death

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Did You Know?

Rigor mortis, which translates from Latin as "stiffness of death", sets in quickly and usually ends three or four days after death. The condition results from a lack of certain chemicals in the muscles; it may be affected by muscular activity before death as well as the external temperature. Mystery writers frequently make use of rigor mortis as a means by which the detective or the examiner can determine the time of the victim's death, which often turns out to be all-important in solving the case.

Examples of rigor mortis in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web

Andrew Kornfeld told investigators that Prince was still warm to the touch when he was found, but that rigor mortis had begun to set in. CBS News, "Video shows Prince at doctor's office day before his deadly overdose," 20 Apr. 2018 Andrew Kornfeld told investigators that Prince was still warm to the touch when he was found, but that rigor mortis had begun to set in. Amy Forliti, BostonGlobe.com, "Investigative materials reveal pop star Prince’s final days," 20 Apr. 2018 Andrew Kornfeld told investigators that Prince was still warm to the touch when he was found, but that rigor mortis had begun to set in. CBS News, "Video shows Prince at doctor's office day before his deadly overdose," 20 Apr. 2018 Andrew Kornfeld told investigators that Prince was still warm to the touch when he was found, but that rigor mortis had begun to set in. Amy Forliti, BostonGlobe.com, "Investigative materials reveal pop star Prince’s final days," 20 Apr. 2018 Andrew Kornfeld told investigators that Prince was still warm to the touch when he was found, but that rigor mortis had begun to set in. CBS News, "Video shows Prince at doctor's office day before his deadly overdose," 20 Apr. 2018 Andrew Kornfeld told investigators that Prince was still warm to the touch when he was found, but that rigor mortis had begun to set in. Amy Forliti, BostonGlobe.com, "Investigative materials reveal pop star Prince’s final days," 20 Apr. 2018 Andrew Kornfeld told investigators that Prince was still warm to the touch when he was found, but that rigor mortis had begun to set in. CBS News, "Video shows Prince at doctor's office day before his deadly overdose," 20 Apr. 2018 Andrew Kornfeld told investigators that Prince was still warm to the touch when he was found, but that rigor mortis had begun to set in. Amy Forliti, BostonGlobe.com, "Investigative materials reveal pop star Prince’s final days," 20 Apr. 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'rigor mortis.' 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 mortis

1847, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for rigor mortis

New Latin, stiffness of death

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Dictionary Entries near rigor mortis

rigolet

rigor

rigorism

rigor mortis

rigorous

rigour

rig-out

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Time Traveler for rigor mortis

The first known use of rigor mortis was in 1847

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More Definitions for rigor mortis

rigor mortis

noun

English Language Learners Definition of rigor mortis

: a temporary stiffness of the body that happens soon after death

rigor mortis

noun
rig·​or mor·​tis | \ˌrig-ər-ˈmȯrt-əs also chiefly British ˌrī-ˌgȯ(ə)r-\

Medical Definition of rigor mortis 

: temporary rigidity of muscles occurring after death

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More from Merriam-Webster on rigor mortis

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with rigor mortis

Spanish Central: Translation of rigor mortis

Nglish: Translation of rigor mortis for Spanish Speakers

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about rigor mortis

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