from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • n. The expanse of an open mouth, a bird's beak, or similar structure.
  • n. A gaping grimace: "his mouth gaping in a kind of rictus of startled alarm” ( Richard Adams).

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. A bird's gaping mouth
  • n. Any open-mouthed expression

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. The gape of the mouth, as of birds; -- often resricted to the corners of the mouth.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. In ornithology, the gape of the bill; the cleft between the upper and the lower mandible when the mouth is open.
  • n. In botany, the throat, as of a calyx, corolla, etc.; the opening between the lips of a ringent or personate flower.

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

  • n. a gaping grimace


Latin, from past participle of ringī, to gape.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
From Latin rictus, participle of ringor ("open the mouth wide") (Wiktionary)



Log in or sign up to get involved in the conversation. It's quick and easy.

  • "A rictus of cruel malignity lit up greyly their old bony faces."
    - James Joyce, 'A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man'.

    August 26, 2009

  • (n): the gape of the mouth, as of birds; often specifically the corners of the mouth.

    January 1, 2009

  • *I said smile, not horrible rictus!*
    from the Questionable Content

    September 13, 2008