Try Our Apps


Gobble up these 8 terms for eating


[spahyn] /spaɪn/
the spinal or vertebral column; backbone.
any backbonelike part.
a stiff, pointed process or appendage on an animal, as a quill of a porcupine, or a sharp, bony ray in the fin of a fish.
something, as a quality or trait, that constitutes a principal strength; resolution; stamina; backbone:
a situation that would test a person's spine.
a ridge, as of ground or rock.
a sharp-pointed, hard or woody outgrowth on a plant; thorn.
Bookbinding. the back of a book cover or binding, usually indicating the title and author.
Origin of spine
late Middle English
1400-50; late Middle English < Latin spīna thorn, backbone
Related forms
spined, adjective
spinelike, adjective Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
Cite This Source
Examples from the Web for spine
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • Barclay struck it sharply with the cane, and it fell writhing on the bed, its spine broken.

    The Elephant God Gordon Casserly
  • The spine of its neck was so constructed that it could describe a circle with its head.

    Four Young Explorers Oliver Optic
  • She pointed with her finger to a slight curve at the upper part of the spine, between the shoulder and neck.

    Olive Dinah Maria Craik, (AKA Dinah Maria Mulock)
  • The spine of the other guard had been broken by a bullet, so that recovery was clearly impossible.

    The Boy Slaves Mayne Reid
  • "Gee, it feels funny," he added, grinning as he pulled the wet shirt away from his spine.

    Hopalong Cassidy's Rustler Round-Up Clarence Edward Mulford
British Dictionary definitions for spine


the spinal column
the sharply pointed tip or outgrowth of a leaf, stem, etc
(zoology) a hard pointed process or structure, such as the ray of a fin, the quill of a porcupine, or the ridge on a bone
the back of a book, record sleeve, etc
a ridge, esp of a hill
strength of endurance, will, etc
anything resembling the spinal column in function or importance; main support or feature
Derived Forms
spined, adjective
Word Origin
C14: from Old French espine spine, from Latin spīna thorn, backbone
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
Cite This Source
Word Origin and History for spine

c.1400, "backbone," later "thornlike part" (early 15c.), from Old French espine (French épine), from Latin spina "backbone," originally "thorn, prickle," from PIE *spei- "sharp point" (cf. Latin spica "ear of corn," Old Norse spikr "nail;" see spike (n.1)). Meaning "the back of a book" is first attested 1922.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
Cite This Source
spine in Medicine

spine (spīn)

  1. See spinal column.

  2. Any of various short pointed projections, processes, or appendages of bone.

The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
Cite This Source
spine in Science
  1. See vertebral column.

  2. Any of various pointed projections, processes, or appendages of animals.

  3. A sharp-pointed projection on a plant, especially a hard, narrow modified leaf, as on a cactus, that is adapted to reduce water loss. Compare thorn. See more at leaf.

spinal adjective
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary
Copyright © 2002. Published by Houghton Mifflin. All rights reserved.
Cite This Source

Word of the Day

Word Value for spine

Scrabble Words With Friends

Nearby words for spine