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 In spring 1971, the Texas Legislature enacted a law that made immunizations against smallpox, diphtheria, tetanus, polio, rubeola and rubella mandatory for the state’s schoolchildren. Paula Allen, ExpressNews.com, "Mass vaccines helped slow San Antonio’s 1970 deadly diptheria epidemic," 16 Jan. 2021 Pregnant women have been receiving vaccines safely since the 1940s and continue to receive vaccination against pertussis, diphtheria, tetanus and influenza. Miriam Fauzia, USA TODAY, "Fact check: Pregnant women do receive vaccines, but more study needed on COVID-19 shot," 29 Dec. 2020 Patients can expect a wide-range of services available for low acuity health issues, minor sports or work related injuries, including on-site immunizations for flu and tetanus, and more. courant.com, "Community News For The Putnam-Killingly Edition," 18 Dec. 2020 In your specific case, with an illness such as tetanus, going without future doses of that vaccine might be a reasonable decision. James Hamblin, The Atlantic, "Ask Dr. Hamblin: I Have Allergies. Should I Still Get the Vaccine?," 23 Dec. 2020 Mandatory childhood immunizations include measles, mumps and rubella, diphtheria, pertussis (whooping cough), tetanus, poliomyelitis, and haemophilus influenzae type B, an infection that can lead to bacterial meningitis. Jenna Carlesso, courant.com, "The COVID-19 shot is complicating Connecticut lawmakers’ efforts to eliminate the state’s religious exemption from vaccines," 15 Dec. 2020 The average private-sector non-influenza vaccine for adults ranges from about $26 for Grifols' tetanus and diphtheria toxoids inoculation to $228 for Merck's Human papillomavirus inoculation, according to the CDC. Nathan Bomey, USA TODAY, "Could a coronavirus vaccine rehab the pharmaceutical industry's reputation despite drug price increases?," 9 July 2020 Gunner was treated for a small wound to the stomach but is otherwise fine, while Wilbanks received a tetanus shot and will keep his pet on a leash and farther away from the water from now on. Washington Post, "Video shows man wrestling puppy from alligator’s jaws without dropping his cigar," 23 Nov. 2020 In the United States, vaccines have eliminated polio, which primarily affects children and can cause paralysis, and largely eliminated measles and tetanus, among other diseases. Author: Evan Bush, Anchorage Daily News, "Why a coronavirus vaccine might not get things back to normal," 15 Nov. 2020

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

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Last Updated

20 Jan 2021

Cite this Entry

“Tetanus.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/tetanus. Accessed 21 Jan. 2021.

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More Definitions for tetanus


How to pronounce tetanus (audio)

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

Nglish: Translation of tetanus for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of tetanus for Arabic Speakers

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about tetanus

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