Definition of opisthotonos in English:


(also opisthotonus)

Pronunciation /ˌäpəsˈTHädənəs/ /ˌɑpəsˈθɑdənəs/


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

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


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