Definition of trismus in English:


Pronunciation /ˈtrizməs/ /ˈtrɪzməs/


  • Spasm of the jaw muscles, causing the mouth to remain tightly closed, typically as a symptom of tetanus.

    Also called lockjaw

    ‘He developed jaw muscle spasm or trismus (from the word ‘grinding’ in Greek), difficulty swallowing, and stiffness or pain in the neck, shoulder and back muscles.’
    • ‘Regional lymphadenopathy is common, and cellulitis and trismus (inability to open the mouth fully) can occur.’
    • ‘The presenting symptoms include fever, throat pain, and trismus.’
    • ‘Muscle tone is increased, producing the characteristic trismus, ‘risus sardonicus,’ and opisthotonus.’
    • ‘The most common dystonias involve the muscles of the head and face producing buccal spasms, oculogyric crisis, facial grimacing, tics, or trismus.’


Late 17th century from modern Latin, from Greek trismos ‘a scream, grinding’.