Pronunciation: (tet'n-us), [key]
1. Pathol.an infectious, often fatal disease caused by a specific bacterium that enters the body through wounds and characterized by respiratory paralysis and tonic spasms and rigidity of the voluntary muscles, esp. those of the neck and lower jaw. Cf. lockjaw.
2. Also called tet'anus bacil'lus. Bacteriol.the bacterium, Clostridium tetani, causing this disease.
3. Physiol.a state of sustained contraction of a muscle during which the muscle does not relax to its initial length or tension, induced by a rapid succession of stimuli.
Random House Unabridged Dictionary, Copyright © 1997, by Random House, Inc., on Infoplease.