Definition of tetanus in English:



mass noun
  • 1A bacterial disease marked by rigidity and spasms of the voluntary muscles.

    This disease is caused by the bacterium Clostridium tetani; Gram-positive anaerobic rods

    See also trismus
    • ‘Use of the DTaP vaccine has virtually eliminated diphtheria and tetanus in childhood and has markedly reduced the number of pertussis cases.’
    • ‘For several bacterial diseases, such as diphtheria and tetanus, physicians can prevent the illness by immunizing people against the microbes' toxins.’
    • ‘A study in Benin failed to show that vaccination for diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis, and polio was associated with reduced mortality from other conditions.’
    • ‘The bacteria that causes tetanus can be found in dirt, potting soil, and manure, and can enter the body through any simple wound.’
    • ‘Some bacteria, such as those that cause tetanus and diphtheria, produce powerful toxins.’
    • ‘Sometimes, the first and only sign of tetanus is a spasm of the muscles nearest to the infected wound.’
    • ‘Many vaccines are given in childhood, but adults still need to be routinely vaccinated to prevent some illnesses, such as tetanus and influenza.’
    • ‘Some vaccines, such as tetanus and pertussis, don't provide lifelong immunity.’
    • ‘We are equipped with antitoxin and a vaccine to prevent the disease, yet tetanus continues to be a major public health problem throughout much of the developing world.’
    • ‘A variety of treatments, from vitamins to alpha and beta adrenergic receptor blockers, have been suggested for tetanus.’
    • ‘Farm animals are guarded against anthrax, tetanus, and other disease by antibiotics or vaccines developed by animal based research.’
    • ‘Processed plasma is also used to help produce stronger antibodies against diseases like tetanus, hepatitis, chickenpox and rabies.’
    • ‘In the UK, it is possible to catch the disease tetanus from a bite such as a dog bite, although this is now very rare.’
    • ‘So I dutifully checked my vaccinations were up-to-date - typhoid, tetanus, hepatitis A and all the rest - and resigned myself to six weeks of malaria tablets.’
    • ‘Her patients ranged from the poorest of the poor to the wife and daughter of a Maharaja, and she dealt with cases of tetanus, rabies, malaria, and cholera, as well as more routine medicine and surgery.’
    • ‘Typical immunisations for a traveller will include a booster for polio and tetanus, and immunisation against hepatitis A and typhoid.’
    • ‘If you haven't been vaccinated at all against tetanus and diphtheria then you do need a primary course of three doses and then followed up with two booster doses ten years apart.’
    • ‘As part of the preparation, everybody on the recovery team was vaccinated against diseases, such as hepatitis B and tetanus.’
    • ‘For nearly 50 years Australian babies have been routinely vaccinated against diphtheria, pertussis and tetanus.’
    • ‘From October babies in the UK will be given a five-in-one vaccine to protect them against polio, diphtheria, tetanus, whooping cough and Hib, a virus which can lead to meningitis.’
  • 2Physiology
    The prolonged contraction of a muscle caused by rapidly repeated stimuli.

    • ‘The onset kinetics of this slow signal were slightly modified in nominally calcium-free medium, as were both the frequency and number of pulses during tetanus.’
    • ‘At 50 shocks per second, the muscle goes into the smooth, sustained contraction of tetanus.’
    • ‘As we normally use our muscles, the individual fibers go into tetanus for brief periods rather than simply undergoing single twitches.’


Late Middle English: from Latin, from Greek tetanos ‘muscular spasm’, from teinein ‘to stretch’.