Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition.

  • noun The vertebrate spine or spinal column.
  • noun Something, such as the keel of a ship, that resembles a backbone.
  • noun The main support or major sustaining factor.
  • noun Strength of character; determination.
  • noun A ridge forming the principal axis of a mountain.
  • noun The principal mountain ridge, range, or system of a region.
  • noun Chemistry The main chain of atoms in a polymer.
  • noun Computers A high-speed communications line that connects smaller, local networks to each other, especially in a wide area network.

from The Century Dictionary.

  • noun The bone of the middle line of the back; the spine; the vertebral column; the vertebræ collectively.
  • noun Something resembling a backbone in appearance, position, or office: as, the Apennines are the backbone of Italy.
  • noun Figuratively, firmness; stability of purpose; decision of character; resolution; moral principle.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English.

  • noun The column of bones in the back which sustains and gives firmness to the frame; the spine; the vertebral or spinal column.
  • noun Anything like , or serving the purpose of, a backbone.
  • noun Firmness; moral principle; steadfastness.
  • noun through and through; thoroughly; entirely.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License.

  • noun The series of vertebrae, separated by disks, that encloses and protects the spinal cord, and runs down the middle of the back in vertebrate animals.
  • noun any fundamental support, structure, or infrastructure
  • noun courage, fortitude, or strength

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • noun the part of a network that connects other networks together
  • noun the series of vertebrae forming the axis of the skeleton and protecting the spinal cord
  • noun the part of a book's cover that encloses the inner side of the book's pages and that faces outward when the book is shelved
  • noun fortitude and determination
  • noun a central cohesive source of support and stability

Etymologies

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

From back + bone.

Examples

  • The yellow streak up his backbone is the width of the M25.

    Stop The Gravy Train, I Want To Get On!

  • The yellow streak up his backbone is the width of the M25.

    Archive 2008-02-24

  • LOTHIAN: As President Obama signed executive orders that he says levels the playing field between labor unions and employers, he reached out to what he calls the backbone of the country -- middle class families, people White House spokesman Robert Gibbs suggested the Bush administration ignored.

    CNN Transcript Jan 30, 2009

  • LOTHIAN: As President Obama signed executive orders that he says levels the playing field between labor unions and employers, he reached out to what he calls the backbone of the country -- middle class families, people White House spokesman Robert Gibbs suggested the Bush administration ignored.

    CNN Transcript Jan 30, 2009

  • He said the problem with recruiting and retaining the general internal medicine specialists, which he called the backbone of rural hospitals, plus support staff, has put pressure on family physicians to deal with sick patients beyond their scope.

    The Telegram: Local News

  • Schumer said the program could make a real difference in the economy, by helping small businesses, which he called the backbone of the U.S. economy.

    AllBusiness.com - Home Page RSS

  • Granholm begged the Obama administration to help the manufacturing sector, which she called the backbone of the middle class in this country.

    CNN Political Ticker

  • Granholm begged the Obama administration to help the manufacturing sector, which she called the backbone of the middle class in this country.

    CNN Political Ticker

  • The peope will have to put the bone back in backbone for state leaders.

    The “I have been requested to put up an open thread” Friday Open Thread. | RedState

  • The Mount Nimba range is a 40 km-long narrow ridge running southwest to northeast, part of a Guinean mountain backbone bordering Sierra Leone and Liberia, of Precambrian basement rock, predominantly granites.

    Mount Nimba Strict Nature Reserve, Guinea and Côte d'Ivoire

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