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[pek-ter-uh l] /ˈpɛk tər əl/
of, in, on, or pertaining to the chest or breast; thoracic.
worn on the breast or chest.
proceeding from the heart or inner consciousness.
Speech. (of a vocal quality) appearing to come from resonance in the chest; full or deep.
of or for diseases of the lungs.
Anatomy. a pectoral part or organ, as a pectoral muscle.
something worn on the breast for ornament, protection, etc., as a breastplate.
Origin of pectoral
late Middle English
1400-50; (noun) late Middle English < Latin pectorāle, noun use of neuter of pectorālis of the breast (pector-, stem of pectus breast + -ālis -al1); (adj.) < Latin pectorālis
Related forms
pectorally, adverb
interpectoral, adjective
postpectoral, adjective
prepectoral, adjective
subpectoral, adjective Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for pectoral
  • On his left pectoral is a skull with one eyeball dangling from the socket by a cord of veins.
  • He oxygenates the eggs by fanning them with his pectoral fins.
  • They are medium-size sharks, with thick, stout bodies and long pectoral fins.
  • The manta ray is a graceful swimmer, cruising the world's temperate and tropical waters by flapping its large pectoral fins.
  • No trouble identifying this one: a flying fish that was soaring away from a pursuer on long, winglike pectoral fins.
  • She could also rest her head on his warm pectoral, her hand on the third can to the right in his six-pack.
  • We suspect the procedure is related to the pectoral injury he suffered in the season finale.
British Dictionary definitions for pectoral


of or relating to the chest, breast, or thorax: pectoral fins
worn on the breast or chest: a pectoral medallion
(rare) heartfelt or sincere
a pectoral organ or part, esp a muscle or fin
a medicine or remedy for disorders of the chest or lungs
anything worn on the chest or breast for decoration or protection
Derived Forms
pectorally, adverb
Word Origin
C15: from Latin pectorālis, from pectus breast
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 pectoral

1570s, "pertaining to the breast," from Latin pectoralis "of the breast," from pectus (genitive pectoris) "breast, chest," from PIE root *peg- "breast."


early 15c., "ornament worn on the breast," from Middle French pectoral and directly from Latin pectorale "breastplate," noun use of neuter of adjective pectoralis (see pectoral (adj.)).

As a shortened form of pectoral muscle, attested from 1758. Slang shortening pec for this is first recorded 1966. Related: Pectorals; pecs.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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pectoral in Medicine

pectoral pec·to·ral (pěk'tər-əl)

  1. Relating to or situated in the breast or chest.

  2. Useful in relieving disorders of the chest or respiratory tract.

The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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pectoral in Science
Located in or attached to the chest, as a pectoral fin or a pectoral muscle.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary
Copyright © 2002. Published by Houghton Mifflin. All rights reserved.
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