Definition of lockjaw in English:



  • 1(especially in nonmedical use) tetanus.

    ‘for hundreds of years the most dreaded diseases were leprosy and lockjaw’
    • ‘An antitetanus serum introduced at the turn of the century greatly reduced the incidence of wounded men succumbing to lockjaw.’
    • ‘Tetanus, also called lockjaw, is a disease with uncontrolled muscle spasms caused by a bacterium in a local wound.’
    • ‘Thoreau maintained a close relationship with his brother up until the latter's death of lockjaw following a freak accident.’
    • ‘Mrs Wilby said she had previously seen tetanus - often known as lockjaw - in animals.’
    • ‘Tetanus or lockjaw may not seem to be a compelling disease to vaccinate against in elderly adults but 92 % of all cases occur in adults and 71 % are over the age of fifty.’
    • ‘Is the likelihood of my coming down with lockjaw or diphtheria high enough to warrant a vaccination?’
    • ‘Tetanus, also known as lockjaw, is a serious but preventable disease that affects the body's muscles and nerves.’
    • ‘Symptoms of the infection include muscle rigidity and spasms, particularly of the face and jaw, hence its common name lockjaw.’
    • ‘The victim refused to have his fingers amputated although he was given medical advice that failure to do so would result in lockjaw and his death.’
    • ‘Of course that first thing that sprang to mind was lockjaw, but I've not been hammering any rusty nails recently, so it's unlikely.’
    1. 1.1 Spasm of the jaw muscles, causing the mouth to remain tightly closed, typically as a symptom of tetanus.
      ‘if your child develops lockjaw—particularly after sustaining a wound—seek medical attention right away’
      The technical medical term is trismus
      figurative ‘I laughed until I got lockjaw’
      • ‘It's a terrible and often fatal disease starting with muscle spasms in the jaw and face, called lockjaw, then spreading.’
      • ‘Tetanus often begins with mild spasms in the jaw muscles-also known as lockjaw or trismus.’
      • ‘If tetanus attacks the jaw muscles it causes lockjaw.’
      • ‘Cephalic tetanus, the least common, causes muscle spasms in the face, leading to a classic case of lockjaw.’
    2. 1.2US informal usually as modifier An accent associated with the upper class of the northeastern United States, characterized by a supposed lack of movement of the mouth and jaw.
      ‘he disdained the preppy men with lockjaw accents who populated Nantucket during the summer’
      • ‘A hint of Long Island lockjaw crept into her voice, which I knew happened only in times of extreme stress.’
      • ‘It is hard to imagine two snobbish East Coast intellectuals with lockjaw patrician accents being invited onto prime-time television now to opine on the hot-button issues of the day.’
      • ‘Even though he was raised in working-class 'burbs, he acquired a hint of Main Line lockjaw.’
      • ‘He was a prominent figure in New York's social scene, with his lockjaw accent, unfailing good humor, and boundless enthusiasm for new experiences.’
      • ‘With his lockjaw voice and nose for journalistic stunts, George was a WASP daredevil.’
      • ‘He dressed himself in white, popped his collar toward the heavens, picked up a mallet, and announced in his bogus rich boy's lockjaw, "Croquet anyone?"’
      • ‘She would stride onto the stage, sit confidently, legs crossed, and, in that austere, Waspy lockjaw voice that has become her trademark, do what she does best - sell order and beauty, aspiration and a sort of perfection.’