Definition of opisthotonos in English:


(also opisthotonus)


mass nounMedicine
  • Spasm of the muscles causing backward arching of the head, neck, and spine, as in severe tetanus, some kinds of meningitis, and strychnine poisoning.

    • ‘These include numbness and weakness of the lower extremities, opisthotonos and seizures.’
    • ‘Twenty four hours later she developed the signs and symptoms of tetanus, with increasing jaw stiffness, opisthotonos, and generalised limb spasticity.’
    • ‘This is known as opisthotonus and is most common in children with the infection.’
    • ‘The four adult members of the family were conscious but had muscle stiffness with periodic convulsive movements of the limbs and opisthotonos.’
    • ‘If the trunk is involved, shoulder shrugging, tortipelvis, opisthotonus, or scoliosis may occur.’


Mid 17th century: via late Latin from Greek opisthotonos ‘drawn backwards’.