from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • adj. Anatomy Of, toward, on, in, or near the back or upper surface of an organ, part, or organism.
  • adj. Botany Of or on the outer surface, underside, or back of an organ.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • adj. With respect to, or concerning the side in which the backbone is located, or the analogous side of an invertebrate.
  • adj. Having only one sharp side.
  • adj. The top surface of foot and/or hand.
  • n. A hanging, usually of rich stuff, at the back of a throne, altar, etc.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • adj. Pertaining to, or situated near, the back, or dorsum, of an animal or of one of its parts; notal; tergal; neural; ; -- opposed to ventral.
  • adj.
  • adj. Pertaining to the surface naturally inferior, as of a leaf.
  • adj. Pertaining to the surface naturally superior, as of a creeping hepatic moss.
  • n. A hanging, usually of rich stuff, at the back of a throne, or of an altar, or in any similar position.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • In anatomy: Of or pertaining to the back: as, the dorsal fin of a fish; dorsal muscles, nerves, etc.
  • Of or pertaining to the back of a part or organ: as, the dorsal aspect of the hand; the dorsal surface of the breast-bone; the dorsal artery of the penis.
  • In entomology, pertaining to the upper surface of the thorax or abdomen.
  • n. In ichthyology, a dorsal fin.
  • n. In anatomy, a dorsal vertebra.
  • n. Eccles. See the extract.
  • In phonology, pronounced with the back or middle upper surface of the tongue raised to the palate.
  • In botany, relating to the back of an organ. See back, 3 (A).

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

  • adj. belonging to or on or near the back or upper surface of an animal or organ or part
  • adj. facing away from the axis of an organ or organism


Middle English, from Late Latin dorsālis, from Latin dorsuālis, from dorsum, back.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
From Latin dorsālis ("of or relating to the back"). (Wiktionary)


  • They are shockingly gracile and incredibly long-bodied, with a shape that (when seen in dorsal view) has been likened to that of a champagne flute.

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  • A technique called flavoprotein autofluorescence was used to image a part of their brain called the dorsal cochlear nucleus DCN, which is associated with tinnitus.

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  • The scientists discovered that a critical mental control area, called the dorsal anterior cingulate cortex, worked much harder and, perhaps, less efficiently among children with attention problems.

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  • I think you mistakenly called the dorsal stream the what pathway - it is the where pathway a typo, I'm sure.

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  • Above the gills, it is collected by six more pairs of blood vessels into another big vessel running down the middle, called the dorsal aorta, which feeds the rest of the body.


  • Every segment of the vertebral column has two big nerves sprouting from the spinal cord on either side, called the dorsal root and the ventral root.


  • When they encounter a stimulus, such as a pinprick, they send a message through trunk cables to a part of the spinal cord called the dorsal horn. - Chronic pain: The enemy within

  • Through the nerve trunk to which the nerve endings belong the irritation spreads and is transmitted to the spinal cord by the dorsal roots of the nerves to the area which is known as the dorsal horns of the cord.

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  • In the latter we find the moving agent to be a long tube, which runs the whole length of the back, and is called the dorsal vessel (from the Latin _dorsum_, back).

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  • Reward circuits in a brain region called the dorsal anterior cingulate cortex also lit up.

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