tet·​a·​nus | \ˈte-tə-nəs, 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

Along with flu shots, others that tend to cause stinging and soreness later are tetanus, MMR (measles, mumps and rubella), pneumonia, typhoid, and some antibiotics, like penicillin, Stewart explained. Erica Sweeney, Teen Vogue, "Why Do Some Vaccines Hurt More Than Others?," 24 Oct. 2018 Other adult vaccine coverage rates are low as well: 45 percent for the flu vaccine and 23 percent each for pneumococcal and tetanus-diphtheria-pertussis vaccines. Michelle Andrews, Washington Post, "For people age 50 or older, doctors say the new shingles vaccine is a must," 14 Apr. 2018 They were all treated for rabies, in case of bats in the cave, and tetanus, and set up with IV drips. Shibani Mahtani, Washington Post, "Rescuers begin missions to bring out last group from flooded Thai cave," 10 July 2018 They've been given tetanus and rabies shots, while some are on antibiotics and vitamins. Anna Werner, CBS News, "New video of Thai cave rescue shows just how close divers came to disaster," 11 July 2018 Two of the eight could have pneumonia, and all were being treated with antibiotics and vaccinations for tetanus and rabies, the New York Times’s Richard C. Paddock and Mike Ives reported yesterday. Colby Itkowitz, Washington Post, "The Health 202: Kavanaugh may not completely gut Obamacare if he makes it to the Supreme Court," 11 July 2018 They were all treated for rabies — in case there were bats in the cave — as well as tetanus, and they were given IV drips. Washington Post, BostonGlobe.com, "How the world came together to save 12 boys trapped in a Thai cave," 10 July 2018 Schools and day care centers usually require proof of such vaccines as TDaP (tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis), MMR (measles, mumps and rubella) and others. Anna Groves, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Want to prevent your children from getting cancer? Doctors push HPV vaccine," 9 July 2018 My mother made me get a tetanus shot, and the whole incident was all but the end of my fishing career. Heather Radke, Longreads, "A Beginner’s Guide to Fly Fishing With Your Father," 16 June 2018

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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Last Updated

12 Nov 2018

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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, 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 \

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

b : tetanus bacillus

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

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