One of the mysteries of the English language finally explained.
Stiffening of the joints and muscles of a body a few hours after death, usually lasting from one to four days.
- ‘When they brought the bodies up, rigor mortis had set in on one women's body so strongly that they couldn't separate the mother from her child.’
- ‘After death, bodies are rubbed and anointed to remove rigor mortis.’
- ‘I tried to remove a newspaper from his hand, but rigor mortis had practically grafted it to his skin.’
- ‘Everybody experiences gradual muscular rigor mortis, where over time you become stiffer and stiffer and stiffer.’
- ‘He tries to slide the ring off his mother's finger, but rigor mortis has set in.’
Mid 19th century: from Latin, literally ‘stiffness of death’.
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