dorsal

noun (1)
dor·​sal | \ ˈdȯr-səl How to pronounce dorsal (audio) \

variant of

: an ornamental cloth hung behind and above an altar

dorsal

adjective
dor·​sal | \ ˈdȯr-səl How to pronounce dorsal (audio) \

Definition of dorsal (Entry 2 of 3)

1 : relating to or situated near or on the back especially of an animal or of one of its parts
2 : abaxial

dorsal

noun (2)

Definition of dorsal (Entry 3 of 3)

: a dorsally located part especially : a thoracic vertebra

Other Words from dorsal

Adjective

dorsally \ ˈdȯr-​sə-​lē How to pronounce dorsal (audio) \ adverb

Did you know?

The most famous use of dorsal is with fin, whether it conjures the ominous dorsal fin of sharks or the benign, even benevolent, image of porpoises and dolphins. Less well-known is the botanical sense of dorsal, meaning "facing away from the axis or stem" (thus the underside of a leaf can be the dorsal side), or the linguistic sense referring to articulations made with the back part of the tongue (\k\ and \g\, for example). Dorsal can be used of non-living things too (in particular, the backs of airplanes), as can its opposite, ventral, which means "relating to the belly." Dorsal descends from Latin dorsum ("back"), which also gave us dossier (via French, for a bundle of documents labeled on the back) and reredos ("an ornamental screen or partition wall behind an altar").

Examples of dorsal in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun For king salmon, a notch is made in their adipose fin, the small fin on their backs between their large, dorsal fin and their tail. Keith Matheny, Detroit Free Press, 23 Oct. 2017 For king salmon, a notch is made in their adipose fin, the small fin on their backs between their large, dorsal fin and their tail. Keith Matheny, USA TODAY, 23 Oct. 2017 Every white cap is a head sticking out of the water, every piece of flotsam is a dorsal fin. James Griffiths, CNN, 21 Sep. 2017 Late at night, the ids of his callers and guests flash like dorsal fins. Dwight Garner, New York Times, 21 Sep. 2017 Also called suckerfish, their strong grip comes from an adhesive disk made from a modified dorsal fin on the fish’s head. Science | AAAS, 20 Sep. 2017 The hook goes through the bridge of the nose, or in just behind the dorsal fin. Frank Sargeant, AL.com, 10 Sep. 2017 In rats, for example, females typically have less-dense receptors in the dorsal hippocampus, which is involved in memory, than do males. Alison Gopnik, WSJ, 25 Aug. 2017 A dorsal fin would have looked less out of place in the photo than a vehicle. Amy B Wang, Washington Post, 30 Aug. 2017 Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective But sometimes hooking a minnow just under the dorsal fin or at the tail triggers strikes from more finicky crappies. Bob Mcnally, Field & Stream, 4 Mar. 2020 The prefrontal cortex is involved in decision making; the dorsal periaqueductal gray area processes painful and aversive events. Cody A. Siciliano, The Conversation, 21 Nov. 2019 The relatively small dorsal fin belies the humpback’s size. Jason Nark, National Geographic, 13 Mar. 2019 Restylane® Lyft with Lidocaine is also intended for injection in the dorsal hand to correct volume loss. Vogue, 1 Apr. 2019 Among the brain’s many pain-producing patterns, however, there is only one region that is consistently active at a high level: the dorsal posterior region of the insula. Nicola Twilley, The New Yorker, 9 May 2016 Arctic grayling males are more colorful than their female counterparts and sport a much longer dorsal fin. John Schandelmeier, Anchorage Daily News, 23 Apr. 2018 To add support for the dual origin hypothesis, Dr. Linz said, evolution would have had to fuse a structure on the dorsal region of the segment and one from the pleural tissue. Asher Elbein, New York Times, 26 Mar. 2018 Conversely, Willamette chinook may be longer and a bit leaner, with less dorsal brilliance. Bill Monroe, OregonLive.com, 29 Mar. 2018 See More

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

First Known Use of dorsal

Adjective

1727, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Noun (2)

1834, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for dorsal

Adjective

Late Latin dorsalis, from Latin dorsum back

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Dictionary Entries Near dorsal

dorsad

dorsal

dorsal column

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Statistics for dorsal

Cite this Entry

“Dorsal.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/dorsal. Accessed 20 May. 2022.

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More Definitions for dorsal

dorsal

adjective
dor·​sal | \ ˈdȯr-səl How to pronounce dorsal (audio) \

Kids Definition of dorsal

: relating to or being on or near the surface of the body that in humans is the back but in most animals is the upper surface a fish's dorsal fin

dorsal

adjective
dor·​sal | \ ˈdȯr-səl How to pronounce dorsal (audio) \

Medical Definition of dorsal

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1a : being or located near, on, or toward the upper surface of an animal (as a quadruped) opposite the lower or ventral surface
b : being or located near, on, or toward the back or posterior part of the human body
2 chiefly British : thoracic

Other Words from dorsal

dorsally \ -​sə-​lē How to pronounce dorsal (audio) \ adverb

dorsal

noun

Medical Definition of dorsal (Entry 2 of 2)

: a dorsally located part especially : a thoracic vertebra

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