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[stur-nuh m] /ˈstɜr nəm/
noun, plural sterna
[stur-nuh] /ˈstɜr nə/ (Show IPA),
Anatomy, Zoology. a bone or series of bones extending along the middle line of the ventral portion of the body of most vertebrates, consisting in humans of a flat, narrow bone connected with the clavicles and the true ribs; breastbone.
the ventral surface of a body segment of an arthropod.
Origin of sternum
1660-70; < New Latin < Greek stérnon chest, breastbone Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for sternum
  • Its shoulders, wishbone and large sternum resembled those of modern birds.
  • The sternum straps in particular keep things in the right place and the main weight on top of your shoulders.
  • He pumped the heel of his palm against her sternum a few times, but her skin was cool as clay.
  • The treatment is intended to eliminate a tumor behind the sternum.
  • He made it, but the dog whistle around his neck caught on the window and jammed painfully into his sternum.
  • She took up a pair of gardening shears and cut the ribs one by one, snipping them in a wide circle around the sternum.
  • It has a birdlike coracoid and furcula and a keeled sternum for flapping flight.
  • He sustained a fractured sternum and head injuries when his car careened into a wall.
  • Plane through joint between body and xiphoid process of sternum.
  • The junction between the body of the sternum and the xiphoid process is on the level of the tenth thoracic vertebra.
British Dictionary definitions for sternum


noun (pl) -na (-nə), -nums
(in man) a long flat vertical bone, situated in front of the thorax, to which are attached the collarbone and the first seven pairs of ribs Nontechnical name breastbone
the corresponding part in many other vertebrates
a cuticular plate covering the ventral surface of a body segment of an arthropod Compare tergum
Derived Forms
sternal, adjective
Word Origin
C17: via New Latin from Greek sternon breastbone
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 sternum

1660s, from Greek sternon "chest, breast, breastbone" (in Homer, only of males), from PIE *stre-to- "to stretch, extend," from a root meaning "flat surface," related to stornynai "to spread out" (see structure (n.)), on the notion of the chest as broad and flat, as opposed to the neck.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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sternum in Medicine

sternum ster·num (stûr'nəm)
n. pl. ster·nums or ster·na (-nə)
A long flat bone, articulating with the cartilages of the first seven ribs and with the clavicle, forming the middle part of the anterior wall of the thorax, and consisting of the corpus, manubrium, and xiphoid process. Also called breastbone.

The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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sternum in Science
A long, flat bone located in the center of the chest, serving as a support for the collarbone and ribs. Also called breastbone. See more at skeleton.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary
Copyright © 2002. Published by Houghton Mifflin. All rights reserved.
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