rigor mortis

noun
rig·​or mor·​tis | \ ˌri-gər-ˈmȯr-təs also chiefly British ˌrī-ˌgȯ-ˈmȯ-təs How to pronounce rigor mortis (audio) \

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 On Tuesday, in his postmortem for a season that entered rigor mortis five weeks ago, Rangers general manager Jon Daniels laid out in some detail a plan for the future. Evan Grant, Dallas News, "If Rangers are truly committed to youth movement, they need to make decisions on Rougned Odor, Elvis Andrus," 30 Sep. 2020 He is frozen in the beginning stages of rigor mortis — his eyes are stuck open and blood is pouring out of his skull into the water. Ariana Romero, refinery29.com, "Wait — Is Steve Actually Dead On Dead To Me?," 8 May 2020 The patient was showing signs of rigor mortis by the time staff members were aware that the patient had died. Paul P. Murphy, CNN, "Workers at Detroit hospital describe overwhelming conditions," 9 Apr. 2020 Just a shame that the patient already had lapsed into early-onset rigor mortis prior to his arrival at the start of January. BostonGlobe.com, "Discarded by the Kings, Ilya Kovalchuk is paying early dividends for playoff hopeful Montreal," 12 Feb. 2020 During a roughly three-hour process, the embalmer washes the body with a disinfectant solution and massages and moves the limbs to loosen the stiffness from rigor mortis. Maggie Jones, New York Times, "The Movement to Bring Death Closer," 19 Dec. 2019 Within a minute or two someone mentioned that rigor mortis had already set in and efforts to revive the man were stopped. Josh Kovner, courant.com, "State reopens probe into suicide at celebrity rehab hospital following Courant investigation," 25 Nov. 2019 No-jime can delay rigor mortis for an hour, standard ikejime for about eight hours and shinkei-jime for up to 24 hours. The Economist, "Ikejime: a humane way to kill fish that makes them tastier," 4 Oct. 2019 That black-and-white image (a still or rigor mortis?) was a technological breakthrough. Armond White, National Review, "1917: War as Video Game and Ceremony," 17 Jan. 2020

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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Time Traveler for rigor mortis

Time Traveler

The first known use of rigor mortis was in 1847

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Cite this Entry

“Rigor mortis.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/rigor%20mortis. Accessed 17 Jan. 2021.

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More Definitions for rigor mortis

rigor mortis

noun
How to pronounce rigor mortis (audio)

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

More from Merriam-Webster on rigor mortis

Nglish: Translation of rigor mortis for Spanish Speakers

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about rigor mortis

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