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 These invertebrate meals become harder to find during the cold of winter, which is why the owls commonly migrate south to Mexico., "Trail cameras reveal more than 100 wildlife species along Arizona's southern borderlands," 15 Apr. 2021 The lamprey is one of a handful of animals that exist on the boundary between vertebrates and our invertebrate forebears. Philip Kiefer, Popular Science, "These fossilized lamprey hatchlings disprove an age-old evolutionary theory," 11 Mar. 2021 Learn about the world of metamorphosing insects from the entomologist Jessica Ware, a curator of invertebrate zoology at the American Museum of Natural History. New York Times, "Savor a Performance Series and Homemade Pizza," 30 Jan. 2021 But the missing morphology is in fact a problem, says Terrence Gosliner, senior curator of invertebrate zoology at the California Academy of Sciences, who wasn’t involved in the work. Matt Simon, Wired, "Is This a Fossilized Lair of the Dreaded Bobbit Worm?," 21 Jan. 2021 An outbreak of the spruce worm — an invertebrate pest — in the boreal regions of Canada and northern Minnesota might be attracting the finches, looking for a meal. Bob Timmons, Star Tribune, "It's a 'finch winter' and other birds to watch for in Minnesota," 21 Jan. 2021 Penelas starts the movie as a proto-Clinton charismatic Cuban Democrat and ends it an invertebrate series of aspirational gestures powered by unctuousness. Jeb Lund, The New Republic, "How to Steal an Election," 26 Oct. 2020 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

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

23 Apr 2021

Cite this Entry

“Invertebrate.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 14 May. 2021.

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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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