When a school boasts of its academic rigor, it means its students learn a lot and work really hard. Rigor means thoroughness and exhaustiveness––the gold standard for a good teacher.

You may have heard of "rigor mortis"––which is a medical term describing the stiffness of a body after death. Rigor used to mean stiffness outside of the corpse context, i.e., sternness. The word changes meaning along with our changing standards for what we want teachers to be.

Definitions of rigor
  1. noun
    excessive sternness
    “the rigors of boot camp”
    synonyms: austerity, hardness, harshness, inclemency, rigorousness, rigour, rigourousness, severeness, severity, stiffness
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    type of:
    sternness, strictness
    uncompromising resolution
  2. noun
    something hard to endure
    synonyms: asperity, grimness, hardship, rigorousness, rigour, rigourousness, severeness, severity
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    the quality (as of scenery) being grim and gloomy and forbidding
    type of:
    difficultness, difficulty
    the quality of being difficult
  3. noun
    the quality of being valid and rigorous
    synonyms: cogency, rigour, validity
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    type of:
    believability, credibility, credibleness
    the quality of being believable or trustworthy
Word Family