vertebra

[vur-tuh-bruh]
noun, plural vertebrae [vur-tuh-bree, -brey] , vertebras. Anatomy, Zoology.
any of the bones or segments composing the spinal column, consisting typically of a cylindrical body and an arch with various processes, and forming a foramen, or opening, through which the spinal cord passes.

Origin:
1570–80; < Latin: (spinal) joint, equivalent to verte(re) to turn (see verse) + -bra noun suffix

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World English Dictionary
vertebra (ˈvɜːtɪbrə)
 
n , pl -brae, -bras
one of the bony segments of the spinal column
 
[C17: from Latin: joint of the spine, from vertere to turn]
 
'vertebral
 
adj
 
'vertebrally
 
adv

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Etymonline
Word Origin & History

vertebra
1610s, from L. vertebra "joint or articulation of the body, joint of the spine" (pl. vertebræ), perhaps from vertere "to turn" (see versus) + instrum. suffix -bra. The notion is of the spine as the "hinge" of the body.
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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American Heritage
Medical Dictionary

vertebra ver·te·bra (vûr'tə-brə)
n. pl. ver·te·bras or ver·te·brae (-brā', -brē')
Any of the bones or cartilaginous segments of the spinal column, usually 33 in number.

The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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American Heritage
Science Dictionary
vertebra   (vûr'tə-brə)  Pronunciation Key 
Plural vertebrae (vûr'tə-brā', -brē') or vertebras
Any of the bones that make up the vertebral column. Each vertebra contains an arched, hollow section through which the spinal cord passes. In humans, the vertebrae are divided into cervical, thoracic, and lumbar sections, and the sacrum and coccyx are both made up of a series of fused vertebrae. The vertebrae are separated by cartilaginous intervertebral disks. See more at skeleton.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary
Copyright © 2002. Published by Houghton Mifflin. All rights reserved.
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Example sentences
It's because the discs between your backbone's vertebrae shrink.
The same thing happens to our vertebrae, which weren't designed to sit on top
  of each other in one weight-bearing column.
The skulls of sauropods are small and delicate compared with the creatures'
  limbs and vertebrae.
Reeve landed headfirst, fracturing the uppermost vertebrae in his spine.
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