cranial nerve

noun Anatomy.
any of the nerves arising from the brainstem and exiting to the periphery of the head through skull openings, including 10 pairs in fish and amphibians and 12 pairs in reptiles, birds, and mammals: in humans, these are the abducens nerve, accessory nerve, auditory nerve, facial nerve, glossopharyngeal nerve, hypoglossal nerve, oculomotor nerve, olfactory nerve, optic nerve, trigeminal nerve, trochlear nerve, and vagus nerve.

Origin:
1830–40

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Collins
World English Dictionary
cranial nerve
 
n
any of the 12 paired nerves that have their origin in the brain and reach the periphery through natural openings in the skull

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition
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American Heritage
Medical Dictionary

cranial nerve n.
Any of 12 pairs of nerves that emerge from or enter the brain, comprising the olfactory (I), optic (II), oculomotor (III), trochlear (IV), trigeminal (V), abducent (VI), facial (VII), vestibulocochlear (VIII), glossopharyngeal (IX), vagus (X), accessory (XI), and hypoglossal (XII) nerves.

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
cranial nerve  
Any of the 12 pairs of nerves in humans and other mammals that connect the muscles and sensory organs of the head and upper chest directly to the brain through openings in the skull. The cranial nerves include the optic nerve and the auditory nerve.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary
Copyright © 2002. Published by Houghton Mifflin. All rights reserved.
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Encyclopedia Britannica
Encyclopedia

cranial nerve

in vertebrates, any of the paired nerves of the peripheral nervous system that connect the muscles and sense organs of the head and thoracic region directly to the brain. In higher vertebrates (reptiles, birds, mammals) there are 12 pairs of cranial nerves: olfactory (I), optic (II), oculomotor (III), trochlear (IV), trigeminal (V), abducent (VI), facial (VII), vestibulocochlear (VIII), glossopharyngeal (IX), vagus (X), accessory (XI), and hypoglossal (XII). Lower vertebrates (fishes, amphibians) have 10 pairs

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Encyclopedia Britannica, 2008. Encyclopedia Britannica Online.
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Example sentences
The area of attachment of a cranial nerve to the surface of the brain is termed its superficial or apparent origin.
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