Cultural Dictionary
umbilical cord [(um-bil-i-kuhl)]

A ropelike structure that connects a developing embryo or fetus to the placenta. The umbilical cord contains the blood vessels that supply the embryo or fetus with nutrients and remove waste products. Connected to the abdomen of the embryo or fetus, the umbilical cord is cut at birth, leaving a small depression — the navel, or “belly button.”

Note: The detaching of the umbilical cord provides a figure of speech for new independence: “He finally cut the umbilical cord and moved out of his parents' home.”
The American Heritage® New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition
Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Company.
Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.
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