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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.
Origin and Etymology of rigor mortis
First Known Use: 1847See Words from the same year
RIGOR MORTIS Defined for English Language Learners
Definition of rigor mortis for English Language Learners
: a temporary stiffness of the body that happens soon after death
medical Definition of rigor mortis
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