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[thawr-aks, thohr-] /ˈθɔr æks, ˈθoʊr-/
noun, plural thoraxes, thoraces
[thawr-uh-seez, thohr-] /ˈθɔr əˌsiz, ˈθoʊr-/ (Show IPA)
Anatomy. the part of the trunk in humans and higher vertebrates between the neck and the abdomen, containing the cavity, enclosed by the ribs, sternum, and certain vertebrae, in which the heart, lungs, etc., are situated; chest.
Zoology. a corresponding part in other animals.
(in insects) the portion of the body between the head and the abdomen.
1350-1400; Middle English < Latin thōrāx < Greek thṓrāx breastplate, part of body which this covers Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for thorax
  • The development of various parts of an insect, such as the thorax or abdomen, is controlled by specific genes.
  • They have a carapace that covers an unsegmented thorax and abdomen.
  • With a pair of fine-tipped forceps, he grabbed one of the insects at the base of its thorax and lifted it off the block.
  • The actuators power the thorax at mechanical resonance.
  • The finished piece resembles an ocean-dwelling crustacean with a human torso emerging from its thorax.
  • Depending on the species, they are on the insects' abdomen or thorax.
  • Watching its wings unfurl and thorax start to glaze emerald green is fascinating.
  • All around him are dead moths, wings folded softly on thorax.
  • The thorax of the fly is built of steel with little flexure joints made out of polyester.
  • Aft, in the thorax of the crustacean, is a small oval accommodating two observers.
British Dictionary definitions for thorax


noun (pl) thoraxes, thoraces (ˈθɔːrəˌsiːz; θɔːˈreɪsiːz)
the part of the human body enclosed by the ribs
the corresponding part in other vertebrates
the part of an insect's body between the head and abdomen, which bears the wings and legs
Word Origin
C16: via Latin from Greek thōrax breastplate, chest
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for thorax

"chest," c.1400, from Latin thorax, from Greek thorax (genitive thorakos) "breastplate, chest," of unknown origin.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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thorax in Medicine

thorax tho·rax (thôr'āks')
n. pl. tho·rax·es or tho·ra·ces (thôr'ə-sēz')

  1. The part of the human body between the neck and the diaphragm, partially encased by the ribs and containing the heart and lungs; the chest.

  2. A part in other vertebrates that corresponds to the human thorax.

  3. The second or middle region of the body of an arthropod, between the head and the abdomen, in insects bearing the legs and wings.

The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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thorax in Science
Plural thoraxes or thoraces (thôr'ə-sēz')
  1. The upper part of the trunk in vertebrate animals. The thorax includes the rib cage, which encloses the heart and lungs. In mammals, the thorax lies above the abdomen and below the neck.

  2. The middle division of the body of an insect, to which the wings and legs are attached. The thorax lies between the head and the abdomen.

The American Heritage® Science Dictionary
Copyright © 2002. Published by Houghton Mifflin. All rights reserved.
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thorax in Culture
thorax [(thawr-aks)]

The part of the body between the neck and diaphragm; the chest.

The American Heritage® New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition
Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Company.
Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.
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Encyclopedia Article for thorax

in amphibians, reptiles, birds, and mammals, the chest. In humans and other mammals the chest is that part of the body between the neck and abdomen. In humans the bony framework of the thorax consists of the 12 thoracic vertebrae, 12 pairs of ribs, and the sternum (breastbone). The mammalian thorax contains the chief organs of respiration and circulation, namely, the lungs, some air passages, the heart, and the great vessels (see thoracic cavity). Below, it is bounded by the diaphragm. The bony framework is encased with muscles, fat, and cutaneous tissues.

Learn more about thorax with a free trial on
Encyclopedia Britannica, 2008. Encyclopedia Britannica Online.
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