aor·​ta | \ ā-ˈȯr-tə How to pronounce aorta (audio) \
plural aortas or aortae\ ā-​ˈȯr-​tē How to pronounce aorta (audio) \

Definition of aorta

: the great arterial trunk that carries blood from the heart to be distributed by branch arteries through the body — see heart illustration

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Other Words from aorta

aortic \ ā-​ˈȯr-​tik How to pronounce aorta (audio) \ adjective

Examples of aorta in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web The cause was a torn aorta, his daughter Susannah Lannoy said. Richard Sandomir, New York Times, "Charles Hill, Detective Who Found ‘The Scream,’ Dies at 73," 10 Mar. 2021 Young suffered a life-threatening tear in his aorta in September 2017, just before the last city election. Sharon Coolidge, The Enquirer, "Wendell Young: From police officer to Cincinnati city councilman," 15 Apr. 2021 Penelope tore both carotid arteries and her aorta on impact, her brother said. Samantha Davenport, Anchorage Daily News, "Anchorage family remembers 22-year-old who died after ski accident at Alyeska," 11 Apr. 2021 The left ventricle is the biggest and strongest chamber of the heart, pumping blood into the aorta and through the body. New York Times, "Note to Future Space Travelers: Prepare for a Shrinking Heart," 29 Mar. 2021 The autopsy report said the wound that was most significant entered Hill's left chest area and caused damage to his ribcage, liver, stomach, pancreas and aorta. Bethany Bruner, USA TODAY, "Autopsy shows Andre Hill, an unarmed Black man, was fatally shot 4 times by former Columbus police officer," 27 Mar. 2021 Surgeons opened her chest to insert a stronger device directly into her aorta to take the pressure off of her heart and lungs. Annysa Johnson, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Beloved Salam Elementary kindergarten teacher rebuilding her life after losing both hands and a foot to sepsis," 12 Oct. 2020 Complications included blood clots in his legs and in his aorta, according to posts on Facebook. Lara Farrar, Arkansas Online, "Atkins schools' chief dies of covid," 30 Sep. 2020 An unruptured aneurysm quietly bulged in my aorta, the main artery of the body. Johnny Diaz, New York Times, "‘I Had Heart Surgery in the Middle of a Coronavirus Hot Spot’," 22 Sep. 2020

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'aorta.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of aorta

1543, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for aorta

borrowed from Medieval Latin, borrowed from Greek aortḗ "aorta, bronchial tubes (in plural aortaí), knapsack," nominal derivative from the stem of aeírein "to join, attach, harness," of uncertain origin

Note: The word appears earlier as Middle English aborchi, abhorti, adorte "aorta," comparable with Middle French aborthi and Medieval Latin adorti; these forms most likely reflect Latin translation of the Arabic versions of Greek medical texts. — The Greek medical term aortḗ belongs to a small set of forms based on aeírein that refer to both attachment and suspension, as áōrto "was hung" ("[máchaira]…pàr xípheos méga kouleón aeìn áōrto" - "[the knife]…was always hung beside the great sheath of his sword"—Iliad 3, 272), aortḗr "belt or strap for hanging a sword or satchel," and aórtēs "knapsack." Perhaps the aorta was pictured as an organ attached to and suspended from the heart in the way a scabbard is hung from a belt. Note that the verb aeírein displays two sets of meanings, that of harnessing and attachment (outside of nominal derivation almost always with the prefix syn- syn-) and of lifting or raising. Whether or not these should be regarded as two verbs of distinct origin or as semantic branches of the same verb is unclear. Though an Indo-European verb base *h2u̯er- can be reconstructed from the Greek evidence, there appear to be no definitely comparable forms outside Greek. See also artery, meteor.

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Last Updated

4 May 2021

Cite this Entry

“Aorta.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 9 May. 2021.

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More Definitions for aorta



English Language Learners Definition of aorta

: the large artery that brings blood from the heart to the rest of the body


aor·​ta | \ ā-ˈȯr-tə How to pronounce aorta (audio) \

Kids Definition of aorta

: the main artery that carries blood from the heart for distribution to all parts of the body


aor·​ta | \ ā-ˈȯrt-ə How to pronounce aorta (audio) \
plural aortas or aortae\ -​ē How to pronounce aorta (audio) \

Medical Definition of aorta

: the large arterial trunk that carries blood from the heart to be distributed by branch arteries through the body

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More from Merriam-Webster on aorta

Nglish: Translation of aorta for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of aorta for Arabic Speakers Encyclopedia article about aorta

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