in·​ver·​te·​brate | \ (ˌ)in-ˈvər-tə-brət How to pronounce invertebrate (audio) , -ˌbrāt \

Definition of invertebrate

1 : lacking a spinal column also : of, relating to, or concerned with invertebrate animals
2 : lacking in strength or vitality : weak

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Other Words from invertebrate

invertebrate noun

Examples of invertebrate in a Sentence

an invertebrate Congress that blithely went along with the President's ill-conceived plan
Recent Examples on the Web The prevailing view at the time was that invertebrate immune systems were incapable of such discernment. Quanta Magazine, "‘Trained Immunity’ Offers Hope in Fight Against Coronavirus," 14 Sep. 2020 Over the decades, invertebrate experts have disturbed dozens of types of mantises, bugging them with everything from live lizards to looming black balls. Cara Giaimo, New York Times, "How a Praying Mantis Says ‘Boo!’," 3 Sep. 2020 The rippling became hypnotically regular, from right to left, like an invertebrate sea creature undulating with the waves. Timothy Snyder, The New York Review of Books, "What Ails America," 3 Sep. 2020 Michael Vecchione, an invertebrate zoologist at the NMNH, commends the Iziko Museum researchers for planning to study the squid’s DNA. Nora Mcgreevy, Smithsonian Magazine, "Rare Giant Squid Washes Onto Shores of South African Beach," 19 June 2020 Foodies from other parts of Chile and beyond come to sample the native potatoes with oysters, king crabs and piure (a type of marine invertebrate) fresh from the sea. Mark Johanson, The Economist, "Food Mash hits: the land that spawned the supermarket spud," 28 Aug. 2020 Study coauthor Allen Collins, a NOAA invertebrate zoologist, is no stranger to this stinging sensation. Hannah Knighton, Smithsonian Magazine, "These Jellyfish Don’t Need Tentacles to Deliver a Toxic Sting," 13 Feb. 2020 Sponge sneezes were first observed in 2014 by a research group led by Sally Leys, an invertebrate zoologist and sponge specialist at the University of Alberta. Theresa Machemer, Smithsonian Magazine, "Watch This Deep-Sea Sponge Sneeze in Slow Motion," 3 Mar. 2020 Derek Perry, an invertebrate fisheries biologist at the Massachusetts Division of Marine Fisheries, said that other fisheries dwarf the impact of the biomedical industry. Doug Fraser, USA TODAY, "Horseshoe crabs may be the answer to a safe coronavirus vaccine next year. Here's why.," 16 June 2020

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'invertebrate.' 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 invertebrate

1819, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for invertebrate

New Latin invertebratus, from Latin in- + New Latin vertebratus vertebrate

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Time Traveler for invertebrate

Time Traveler

The first known use of invertebrate was in 1819

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Statistics for invertebrate

Last Updated

25 Sep 2020

Cite this Entry

“Invertebrate.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 28 Oct. 2020.

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More Definitions for invertebrate


in·​ver·​te·​brate | \ in-ˈvər-tə-brət How to pronounce invertebrate (audio) \

Kids Definition of invertebrate

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: having no backbone an invertebrate animal



Kids Definition of invertebrate (Entry 2 of 2)

: an animal (as a worm or a crab) that does not have a backbone


in·​ver·​te·​brate | \ (ˈ)in-ˈvərt-ə-brət How to pronounce invertebrate (audio) , -ˌbrāt How to pronounce invertebrate (audio) \

Medical Definition of invertebrate

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: an animal having no backbone or internal skeleton



Medical Definition of invertebrate (Entry 2 of 2)

: lacking a spinal column also : of or relating to invertebrate animals

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