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[vur-tuh-bruh] /ˈvɜr tə brə/
noun, plural vertebrae
[vur-tuh-bree, -brey] /ˈvɜr təˌbri, -ˌbreɪ/ (Show IPA),
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 of vertebra
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. 2015.
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Examples from the web for vertebra
  • 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 collapses.
  • By six days, only an occasional vertebra or hind leg remains within the snake's stomach.
  • The junction between the body of the sternum and the xiphoid process is on the level of the tenth thoracic vertebra.
  • Behind it are the transverse process of the seventh cervical vertebra, the sympathetic trunk and its inferior cervical ganglion.
  • At birth the vertebra consists of three pieces, the body and the halves of the vertebral arch.
British Dictionary definitions for vertebra


noun (pl) -brae (-briː), -bras
one of the bony segments of the spinal column
Derived Forms
vertebral, adjective
vertebrally, adverb
Word Origin
C17: from Latin: joint of the spine, from vertere to turn
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 vertebra

1610s, from Latin vertebra "joint or articulation of the body, joint of the spine" (plural vertebræ), perhaps from vertere "to turn" (see versus) + instrumental suffix -bra. The notion is of the spine as the "hinge" of the body.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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vertebra in Medicine

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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vertebra in Science
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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