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.

1570–80; < Latin: (spinal) joint, equivalent to verte(re) to turn (see verse) + -bra noun suffix Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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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]

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition
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Word Origin & History

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
At the end of the animal's tail, a series of plates were fused together and
  held aloft by tail vertebra fused together.
In a compression fracture of the vertebrae, the bone tissue of the vertebra
By six days, only an occasional vertebra or hind leg remains within the snake's
The junction between the body of the sternum and the xiphoid process is on the
  level of the tenth thoracic vertebra.
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