Share this entry
lockjaw Syllabification: lock·jaw
Pronunciation: /ˈläkˌjô/

Definition of lockjaw in English:


1(Especially in nonmedical use) tetanus: for hundreds of years the most dreaded diseases were leprosy and lockjaw
More example sentences
  • Symptoms of the infection include muscle rigidity and spasms, particularly of the face and jaw, hence its common name lockjaw.
  • Tetanus, also called lockjaw, is a disease with uncontrolled muscle spasms caused by a bacterium in a local wound.
  • Mrs Wilby said she had previously seen tetanus - often known as lockjaw - in animals.
1.1Spasm of the jaw muscles, causing the mouth to remain tightly closed, typically as a symptom of tetanus: if your child develops lockjaw—particularly after sustaining a wound—seek medical attention right away figurative I laughed until I got lockjaw The technical medical term is trismus.
More example sentences
  • It's a terrible and often fatal disease starting with muscle spasms in the jaw and face, called lockjaw, then spreading.
  • Cephalic tetanus, the least common, causes muscle spasms in the face, leading to a classic case of lockjaw.
  • If tetanus attacks the jaw muscles it causes lockjaw.
1.2 [usually as modifier] US informal An accent associated with the upper class of the northeastern United States, characterized by a supposed lack of movement of the mouth and jaw: he disdained the preppy men with lockjaw accents who populated Nantucket during the summer
More example sentences
  • With his lockjaw voice and nose for journalistic stunts, George was a WASP daredevil.
  • It is hard to imagine two snobbish East Coast intellectuals with lockjaw patrician accents being invited onto prime-time television now to opine on the hot-button issues of the day.
  • He dressed himself in white, popped his collar toward the heavens, picked up a mallet, and announced in his bogus rich boy's lockjaw, "Croquet anyone?"


Pronunciation: /ˈläkˌjôd/
Example sentences
  • Language was beyond me ... I was lockjawed.
  • Gloria Upson is Patrick's snobbish fiancee with a lockjawed seaboard accent.
  • He glared into the crowd with a lockjawed expression.
Definition of lockjaw in:
Share this entry

What do you find interesting about this word or phrase?

Comments that don't adhere to our Community Guidelines may be moderated or removed.

Subscribe to remove ads and access premium resources