The progressive stiffening of the muscles that occurs several hours after death as a result of the coagulation of the muscle protein.
Webster's New World
Origin of Rigor-mortis
Latin rigorstiffnessmortisgenitive ofmorsdeath
American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition
From Latinrigormortis, literally "stiffness of death".
Rigor-mortis Sentence Examples
They are in a state of extreme contraction, far exceeding the usual rigor mortis.
At some point over night the whole thing just locked, to be found in the same state of digital rigor mortis this morning.
The body may also become rather stiff, although this is not the same as the rigor mortis that will follow several hours after death.
After death the position of the body may or may not be flexed; usually rigor mortis develops rapidly.
The cardiac contractions become irregular, the ventricle assumes curious shapes - "hour-glass," &c. - becomes very pale and bloodless, and finally the heart stops in a state of spasm, which shortly afterwards becomes rigor-mortis.