chor·​date ˈkȯr-ˌdāt How to pronounce chordate (audio)
: any of a phylum (Chordata) of animals having at least at some stage of development a notochord, dorsally situated central nervous system, and gill slits and including the vertebrates, lancelets, and tunicates
chordate adjective

Examples of chordate in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web There are only two chordate groups that are not vertebrates—tunicates and cephalochordates. Elizabeth Rayne, Ars Technica, 16 July 2023 Until now, the glow in other chordate animals had been explained by their diet or from a symbiotic relationship with glowing bacteria. Popular Science, 22 Oct. 2020 That is in contradistinction to Cambrian fossils, among which are found representatives of all the main animal groups (annelids, arthropods, brachiopods, chordates, cnidarians, echinoderms, molluscs and so on) that are around today. The Economist, 7 June 2018 The first saw the emergence of brachiopods and molluscs, the second that of annelids, cnidarians, echinoderms and chordates (a group that includes the vertebrates). The Economist, 7 June 2018

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'chordate.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


ultimately from Latin chorda cord

First Known Use

1897, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of chordate was in 1897

Dictionary Entries Near chordate

Cite this Entry

“Chordate.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 28 Feb. 2024.

Kids Definition


chor·​date ˈkȯr-ˌdāt How to pronounce chordate (audio)
: any of a major group of animals (as vertebrates and tunicates) having at least at some stage of development a notochord, a central nervous system located in the back, and openings for water to pass over the gills
chordate adjective

More from Merriam-Webster on chordate

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