tet·​a·​nus | \ ˈte-tə-nəs How to pronounce tetanus (audio) , ˈtet-nəs\

Definition of tetanus

1a : an acute infectious bacterial disease characterized by tonic spasm of voluntary muscles especially of the jaw and caused by an exotoxin of a clostridium (Clostridium tetani) which is usually introduced through a wound — compare lockjaw
b : the bacterium that causes tetanus
2 : prolonged contraction of a muscle resulting from rapidly repeated motor impulses

Examples of tetanus in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web

For example, a tetanus shot for a vet seeking treatment for a wound caused by a rusted metal object. courant.com, "Community News For The West Hartford Edition," 12 Aug. 2019 In Texas, the state minimum requirement for vaccinations includes: Diphtheria/tetanus/pertussis. Roy Kent, Houston Chronicle, "Vaccination rates show a dropoff," 31 July 2019 Infections from tetanus precipitated a large swath of those deaths, triggered by shrapnel from fireworks and toy guns that got into a person's skin. Michael Waters, Smithsonian, "The 1900s Movement to Make the Fourth of July Boring (But Safe)," 3 July 2019 The vaccines are given in the arm like a flu or tetanus vaccine; rabies vaccines are not given in the stomach, the CDC said. Leada Gore | Lgore@al.com, al.com, "Bats close Alabama daycare; officials recommend children receive rabies treatment," 1 July 2019 Getting tetanus can be devastating, as a 2017 case in Oregon showed. New York Times, "Vaccine Injury Claims Are Few and Far Between," 18 June 2019 Related Stories California requires children attending public schools, including charter schools, to be inoculated against infectious diseases including measles, mumps, chicken pox, tetanus, whooping cough and rubella. Dustin Gardiner, SFChronicle.com, "California lawmakers advance vaccine exemption crackdown toward passage," 21 June 2019 Foreign Edition Podcast Foreign Edition Podcast Last November officials in Jilin province found that the Changsheng Biotechnology Co. falsified production data for a diphtheria, pertussis and tetanus (DPT) vaccine. The Editorial Board, WSJ, "China’s Vaccine Scandal," 27 July 2018 Growing up in postwar Italy at age 12, Luciano Pavarotti fell ill with tetanus and sank into a coma for two weeks. Kyle Smith, National Review, "Pavarotti’s Joy of Living," 4 June 2019

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

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

History and Etymology for tetanus

Middle English, from Latin, from Greek tetanos, from tetanos stretched, rigid; akin to Greek teinein to stretch — more at thin

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Statistics for tetanus

Last Updated

20 Aug 2019

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Time Traveler for tetanus

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

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English Language Learners Definition of tetanus

medical : a dangerous disease that is caused by bacteria that usually enter the body through a cut or wound


tet·​a·​nus | \ ˈte-tə-nəs How to pronounce tetanus (audio) , ˈtet-nəs\

Kids Definition of tetanus

: a serious disease that is marked by spasms of the muscles especially of the jaws and that is caused by poison from a bacterium that usually enters the body through a wound


tet·​a·​nus | \ ˈtet-ᵊn-əs, ˈtet-nəs How to pronounce tetanus (audio) \

Medical Definition of tetanus

1a : an acute infectious disease characterized by tonic spasm of voluntary muscles and especially of the muscles of the jaw and caused by an exotoxin produced by a bacterium of the genus Clostridium (C. tetani) which is usually introduced through a wound — compare lockjaw
2 : prolonged contraction of a muscle resulting from a series of motor impulses following one another too rapidly to permit intervening relaxation of the muscle

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More from Merriam-Webster on tetanus

Spanish Central: Translation of tetanus

Nglish: Translation of tetanus for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of tetanus for Arabic Speakers

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about tetanus

Comments on tetanus

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not constant or steady

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