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

  • n. Any of the bones or cartilaginous segments forming the spinal column.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. Any of the small bones which make up the backbone.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. One of the serial segments of the spinal column.
  • n. One of the central ossicles in each joint of the arms of an ophiuran.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. In Vertebrata, any bone of the spine; any segment of the backbone. See backbone and spine.
  • n. In echinoderms, any one of the numerous axial ossicles of the arms of starfishes. See vertebral, a.

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

  • n. one of the bony segments of the spinal column


Middle English, from Latin, from vertere, to turn; see wer-2 in Indo-European roots.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
From Latin vertebra ("joint"), from vertere, "to turn". Having multiple vertebrae (plural of vertebra) in one's backbone instead of having a single bone or solid spine, allows for the movement of the body with bends and turns. Hence meaning 1. (Wiktionary)


  • Very good explanation of why the vertebra is probably "lost", BTW.

    Biggest sauropod ever (part…. II)

  • Alas, the 1060 mm that I gave in those two articles is, while not technically incorrect, not the standardised ‘total length’ of the specimen for, rather than including prezygapophysis length, the standard way of measuring a sauropod vertebra is to stick to centrum length alone.

    ‘Angloposeidon’, the unreported story, part II

  • In the previous post I introduced the long, tedious, much-delayed technical project on MIWG. 7306, a giant brachiosaurid cervical vertebra from the Isle of Wight.

    ‘Angloposeidon’, the unreported story, part II

  • A giant brachiosaurid cervical vertebra from the Wessex Formation (Early Cretaceous) of southern England.

    ‘Angloposeidon’, the unreported story, part IV

  • In the photo above, Luis is holding a caudal vertebra from a hadrosaurid that bears a deep score mark across its surface.

    Archive 2006-02-01

  • A brachiosaurid sauropod vertebra from the Wessex Formation (Wealden Group, Lower Cretaceous) of Sudmoor Point

    ‘Angloposeidon’, the unreported story, part IV

  • The enigmatic one featuring the vertebra is from sauropod worker Mike P. Taylor; the festive dromaeosaur is from (... who else) Luis Rey; the hat-wearing Mantellisaurus is from Simon Clabby (Mantellisaurus is the iguanodont dinosaur formerly known as Iguanodon atherfieldensis.

    Archive 2006-12-01

  • After taking an X-ray, the doctors discovered that I broke the tip of my spine and C1 vertebra, which is at the base of the skull.

    Chicken Soup for the Soul: Inside Basketball

  • Many stomach problems may be due to a misalignment of the sixth thoracic vertebra, which is covered in my articles on the spinal column.

    The Stomach: A Very Complex Organ

  • One in five women who break a vertebra of the spine will have another spinal fracture within the year, possibly leading to a fracture cascade that could leave them with a hump like Grandma.

    You Staying Young


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