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

Another serious pneumococcal infection is meningitis, which impacts the tissue surrounding the brain and spinal cord. Patia Braithwaite, SELF, "Here Are All the Vaccines You Actually Need as an Adult," 26 Aug. 2019 The virus, which is spread from person to person, attacks the brain and spinal cord, bending children’s limbs into horrific spider-like contortions. The Economist, "Africa is on track to be declared polio-free," 21 Aug. 2019 In rare situations, Zika has also been linked to serious complications like Guillain-Barré syndrome (a sickness of the nervous system that causes muscle weakness and paralysis) and swelling of the brain or spinal cord, the CDC says. Korin Miller, Health.com, "What to Know About the Zika Virus and Its Symptoms, According to Experts," 21 Aug. 2019 In the case of ALS, the disease affects the nerves in the brain and spinal cord, progressively robbing people of their ability to use their muscles, including those that control speech. Emily Matchar, Smithsonian, "This Device Can Hear the Voice Inside Your Head," 5 Aug. 2019 Multiple sclerosis is a disease of the central nervous system that affects a person’s brain and spinal cord, slowing down or blocking communication between the brain and the body. Ben Kesslen, NBC News, "Selma Blair updates fans, won't let multiple sclerosis 'define' her," 26 July 2019 In severe cases—like the recent one in Maine—the disease can spread to the brain, causing encephalitis, or the membranes around the brain and spinal cord, causing meningitis. Jamie Ducharme, Time, "Maine Confirmed Its First Case of a Rare Tick-Borne Virus in Years. Here's What to Know About Powassan," 25 July 2019 After Deja was given antibiotics, she was placed in the intensive care unit and diagnosed with pneumococcal meningitis, which is an infection of the membranes covering the brain and spinal cord. al.com, "‘Her strength was amazing’: After daughter’s death, Alabama mother continues her legacy through charity," 18 July 2019 That helped control his arthritis until 2017 when, two days after an infusion, he was severely stricken with viral meningitis, an infection that inflames tissues that cover the brain and spinal cord. John Fauber, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "A drug's most dangerous side effects often aren't discovered until it's on the market," 18 July 2019

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.

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First Known Use of spinal cord

1834, in the meaning defined above

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Statistics for spinal cord

Last Updated

8 Sep 2019

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The first known use of spinal cord was in 1834

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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 spinal 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

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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

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