spinal cord


Definition of spinal cord

: the cord of nervous tissue that extends from the brain lengthwise along the back in the spinal canal, gives off the pairs of spinal nerves, carries impulses to and from the brain, and serves as a center for initiating and coordinating many reflex acts — see brain illustration

Examples of spinal cord in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web

Already, Anikeeva’s colleagues at the University of Washington are testing them on mouse models of spinal cord injury. Jacqueline Detwiler, Popular Mechanics, "The Heroes of Science Who Are Unlocking the Brain," 3 Oct. 2018 Rashid Janjua, a neurosurgeon at Novant Health in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, told Teen Vogue that polio is caused by a virus, called poliovirus, that affects the spinal cord. Josephine Yurcaba, Teen Vogue, "What to Know About AFM, the Polio-Like Illness Spreading Among Kids," 4 Dec. 2018 In 2014, experts first noticed a link between myelitis—inflammation of the spinal cord—and the enterovirus D68 strain. Sumathi Reddy, WSJ, "Another Burst of Polio-Like Cases in Children Alarms Doctors," 5 Nov. 2018 For instance, fasting rodents recover more fully from brain trauma and spinal cord injury, according to several studies. Mark Barna, Discover Magazine, "Not So Fast," 24 Sep. 2018 Longer-term hospital stays might be required if a patient needs rehabilitation for something like a brain or spinal cord injury. Korin Miller, SELF, "6 Reasons These Doctors Are So Outspoken About Gun Violence," 14 Nov. 2018 The brain and spinal cord make up the central nervous system, while the nerves running from them form the peripheral nervous system. Lynn Peterson Mobley, Washington Post, "My athletic husband stumbled. He was tired. He had a disease we’d never heard of.," 8 July 2018 In 1999, Williams revealed he had been diagnosed with multiple sclerosis, a potentially disabling disease of the brain and spinal cord. Michelle Manetti, Good Housekeeping, "Montel Williams Rushed to the Hospital "Out of an Abundance of Caution"," 1 June 2018 The virus can infect the nervous system and cause encephalitis, which is inflammation of the brain, or meningitis, which is inflammation of the membranes surrounding the brain and spinal cord. Gregory B. Hladky, courant.com, "Tick-borne Diseases In Connecticut," 6 May 2018

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

1834, in the meaning defined above

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about spinal cord

Share spinal cord

Statistics for spinal cord

Last Updated

29 Dec 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for spinal cord

The first known use of spinal cord was in 1834

See more words from the same year

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for spinal cord

spinal cord


English Language Learners Definition of spinal cord

: the large group of nerves which runs through the center of the spine and carries messages between the brain and the rest of the body

spinal cord


Kids Definition of spinal cord

: a thick bundle of nerves that extends from the brain down through the cavity of the backbone and connects with nerves throughout the body to carry information to and from the brain

spinal cord


Medical Definition of spinal cord

: the thick longitudinal cord of nervous tissue that in vertebrates extends along the back dorsal to the bodies of the vertebrae and is enclosed in the vertebral canal formed by their neural arches, is continuous anteriorly with the medulla oblongata, gives off at intervals pairs of spinal nerves to the various parts of the trunk and limbs, serves not only as a pathway for nerve impulses to and from the brain but as a center for carrying out and coordinating many reflex actions independently of the brain, and is composed largely of white matter arranged in columns and tracts of longitudinal fibers about a large central core of gray matter somewhat H-shaped in cross section and pierced centrally by a small longitudinal canal continuous with the ventricles of the brain

called also medulla spinalis

Keep scrolling for more

More from Merriam-Webster on spinal cord

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with spinal cord

Spanish Central: Translation of spinal cord

Nglish: Translation of spinal cord for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of spinal cord for Arabic Speakers

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about spinal cord

Comments on spinal cord

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


means, resources, or money

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Homophone Quiz

  • three-bears-two-of-them-look-like-theyre-whispering-to-a-third-bear-who-looks-chuffed-to-be-the-center-of-attention
  • In order to judge how people felt, the senator's office hired a firm to take a ______.
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

Dictionary Devil

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!