from The Century Dictionary.

  • noun A tonic spasm in which the body is bent backward.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English.

  • noun (Med.) A tetanic spasm in which the body is bent backwards and stiffened.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License.

  • noun medicine A tetanic spasm in which the body is bent backwards and stiffened.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • noun severe spasm in which the back arches and the head bends back and heels flex toward the back


from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

New Latin, from Ancient Greek, meaning "backward stretching".


  • That's called opisthotonos -- typical of this condition. "

    Every living thing

  • Oculogyric crisis, blepharospasm, respiratory stridor with cyanosis, torticollis, and opisthotonos can occur, as well as slow, writhing movements of the extremities.

    The Neuropsychiatric Guide to Modern Everyday Psychiatry

  • He was motionless, his legs extended stiffly, his back arched in a dreadful opisthotonos, his eyes staring.

    Every living thing

  • The past was a dim montage of life at the agency and the treatment center and the ranch, a recollection of lying on the river bank with women in attitudes of opisthotonos or of lying against the boulders with a rifle.

    This Crowded Earth

  • _ -- Sense of suffocation, twitchings of muscles, followed by tetanic convulsions and opisthotonos, each lasting half to two minutes.

    Aids to Forensic Medicine and Toxicology

  • “Then, I presume it is not true, ” Coictier went on with rising hear, “that gout is an internal eruption; that a shotwound may be healed by the outward application of a roasted mouse; that young blood, injected in suitable quantities, will restore youth to aged veins; it is not true that two and two make four, and that emprosthotonos follows upon opisthotonos?

    I. The Abbot of St.-Martin’s. Book V

  • At one moment the patient was extended at full length with her body arched forward in a state of opisthotonos.

    Primitive Love and Love-Stories

  • The chief personage in it was a lady reclining at full length on a long couch, and being dragged along, looking the picture of misery, emaciated to the last degree, her head drawn back almost in a state of opisthotonos, her hands and arms clenched and contracted, her eyes fixed and staring at the sky.

    Fat and Blood An Essay on the Treatment of Certain Forms of Neurasthenia and Hysteria

  • According to the muscles involved, it is styled trismus, emprosthotonos, opisthotonos and pleuristhotonos.

    An Epitome of Practical Surgery, for Field and Hospital.

  • Last of all, when the other channels for the escape of the surplus nerve-force have been filled to overflowing, a yet further and less-used group of muscles is spasmodically affected: the head is thrown back and the spine bent inwards -- there is a slight degree of what medical men call opisthotonos.

    Essays on Education and Kindred Subjects Everyman's Library


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  • aka the dead dinosaur pose.

    December 26, 2007

  • "'...What do you make of it?'

    "'I should have said tetanus without hesitation,' said Stephen, feeling the corpse. 'Here is the most characteristic opisthotonos you could possibly wish, the trismus, the risus sardonicus, the early rigor. Unless indeed he could have taken a wild overdose of St Ignatius' beans, or a decoction of their principle.'"

    --Patrick O'Brian, The Ionian Mission, 109

    February 13, 2008