fe·​tal | \ ˈfē-tᵊl How to pronounce fetal (audio) \

Definition of fetal

: of, relating to, or being a fetus

Examples of fetal in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web

The Georgia House gave final approval Friday to legislation outlawing abortions after a fetal heartbeat can be detected, sending the bill to Kemp. Ben Nadler, The Seattle Times, "‘Heartbeat’ abortion ban heads to Georgia governor’s desk," 31 Mar. 2019 Colorado is not among the 38 states with fetal homicide laws, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Jennifer Earl, Fox News, "Pregnant Colorado mom's murder sparks debate over fetal homicide laws," 21 Aug. 2018 But the idea of fetal pain, which seems to be the focus of that statement, is one that continues to come up. Sarah Jacoby, SELF, "What President Trump Got Wrong About Abortion in His State of the Union Address," 6 Feb. 2019 One of those laws sought to ban abortions when a fetal heartbeat could be detected, but it was later ruled unconstitutional. James Macpherson, The Seattle Times, "North Dakota’s GOP-led Legislature mulls abortion bills," 21 Jan. 2019 The placenta is a unique organ made up of fetal and maternal tissue that helps deliver nutrients and oxygen to the fetus during pregnancy and remove waste products. Mark Lieber, CNN, "Pregnancy complications might 'turn on' schizophrenia genes, study says," 30 May 2018 Once the team confirmed what was going on, Adrianna began seeing cardiologists at the Cincinnati Fetal Center, who closely watched Remington’s heart with regular fetal echocardiograms and antenatal monitoring. Trihealth, Cincinnati.com, "Cincinnati Fetal Center gives baby Remington a shot at life," 19 Mar. 2018 There are clearly a few intriguing potential links between morning sickness and maternal and fetal health, but science hasn’t determined anything definitive so far. Korin Miller, SELF, "Is It True That Morning Sickness Means Something Good During Pregnancy?," 10 Jan. 2019 Many of them are also important during the fetal and infant stages of brain development. Diana Gitig, Ars Technica, "Autism involves a large-scale reduction in RNA editing," 21 Dec. 2018

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

See More

First Known Use of fetal

1811, in the meaning defined above

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about fetal

Statistics for fetal

Last Updated

15 Apr 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for fetal

The first known use of fetal was in 1811

See more words from the same year

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for fetal



English Language Learners Definition of fetal

: of or relating to a developing animal or human being that is not yet born : of or relating to a fetus


variants: or chiefly British foetal \ ˈfēt-​ᵊl How to pronounce foetal (audio) \

Medical Definition of fetal

: of, relating to, or being a fetus

Keep scrolling for more

More from Merriam-Webster on fetal

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with fetal

Spanish Central: Translation of fetal

Nglish: Translation of fetal for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of fetal for Arabic Speakers

Comments on fetal

What made you want to look up fetal? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


an act or instance of returning to life

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Words from Greek and Latin Quiz

  • roman forum
  • Which of the following months comes from a Latin word for “ten”?
Name That Thing

Test your visual vocabulary with our 10-question challenge!


Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!