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[noh-tuh-kawrd] /ˈnoʊ təˌkɔrd/
noun, Embryology
a rodlike cord of cells that forms the chief axial supporting structure of the body of the lower chordates, as amphioxus and the cyclostomes, and of the embryos of the vertebrates.
1840-50; noto- + chord
Related forms
notochordal, adjective
subnotochordal, adjective Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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British Dictionary definitions for notochord


a fibrous longitudinal rod in all embryo and some adult chordate animals, immediately above the gut, that supports the body. It is replaced in adult vertebrates by the vertebral column
Derived Forms
notochordal, adjective
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
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Word Origin and History for notochord

1848, coined in English by English anatomist Sir Richard Owen (1804-1892) from chord + comb. form of Greek noton "back," from PIE *not- "buttock, back" (cf. Latin natis "buttock," sopurce of Italian, Spanish nalga, Old French nache "buttock, butt").

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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notochord in Medicine

notochord no·to·chord (nō'tə-kôrd')

  1. A flexible rodlike structure that forms the main support of the body in the lowest chordates; a primitive backbone.

  2. A similar structure in embryos of higher vertebrates, from which the spinal column develops.

no'to·chord'al adj.
The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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notochord in Science
A flexible rodlike structure that forms the main support of the body in all chordates during some stage of their development. In vertebrates, the notochord develops into a true backbone in the embryonic phase. Primitive chordates, such as lancelets and tunicates, retain a notochord throughout their lives.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary
Copyright © 2002. Published by Houghton Mifflin. All rights reserved.
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Encyclopedia Article for notochord

flexible rodlike structure of mesodermal cells that is the principal longitudinal structural element of chordates and of the early embryo of vertebrates, in both of which it plays an organizational role in nervous system development. In later vertebrate development, it becomes part of the vertebral column. The notochord derives during gastrulation (infolding of the blastula, or early embryo) from cells that migrate anteriorly in the midline between the hypoblast and the epiblast (inner and outer layers of the blastula). These cells coalesce immediately beneath the developing central nervous system. With the formation of the vertebral column, the notochord is incorporated into the column as the centres of the intervertebral discs, called the nuclei pulposi, which cushion the vertebrae.

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Encyclopedia Britannica, 2008. Encyclopedia Britannica Online.
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