Anatomy. the spinal column; spine.
strength of character; resolution.
something resembling a backbone in appearance, position, or function.
Bookbinding. a back or bound edge of a book; spine.
Nautical. a rope running along the middle of an awning, as a reinforcement and as an object to which a supporting bridle or crowfoot may be attached.
Naval Architecture. the central fore-and-aft assembly of the keel and keelson, giving longitudinal strength to the bottom of a vessel.

1250–1300; Middle English bacbon. See back1, bone1

backboned, adjective
backboneless, adjective

2. firmness, decision, fortitude. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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World English Dictionary
backbone (ˈbækˌbəʊn)
1.  a nontechnical name for spinal column
2.  something that resembles the spinal column in function, position, or appearance
3.  strength of character; courage
4.  the main or central mountain range of a country or region
5.  nautical the main longitudinal members of a vessel, giving structural strength
6.  computing (in computer networks) a large-capacity, high-speed central section by which other network segments are connected

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition
2009 © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009
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Word Origin & History

"spine," c.1300, from back (n.) + bone. Fig. sense of "strength of character" is attested from 1843.
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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American Heritage
Medical Dictionary

backbone back·bone (bāk'bōn')
See spinal column.

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
backbone   (bāk'bōn')  Pronunciation Key 
See vertebral column.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary
Copyright © 2002. Published by Houghton Mifflin. All rights reserved.
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American Heritage
Cultural Dictionary

backbone definition

The primary line(s) that connects the slower, shorter cable portions of a communications network together. (See last mile.) In larger networks, such as the Internet, a backbone consists of high-capacity, high-speed lines that can extend over great distances.

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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