\ ˈspīn How to pronounce spine (audio) \

Definition of spine

b : something resembling a spinal column or constituting a central axis or chief support
c : the part of a book to which the pages are attached and on the cover of which usually appear the title and author's and publisher's names
2 : a stiff pointed plant process especially : one that is a modified leaf or leaf part — compare prickle sense 1, thorn sense 1a
3 : a sharp rigid process on an animal: such as
a : spicule
b : a stiff unsegmented fin ray of a fish
c : a pointed prominence on a bone

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Other Words from spine

spined \ ˈspīnd How to pronounce spined (audio) \ adjective
spinelike \ ˈspīn-​ˌlīk How to pronounce spinelike (audio) \ adjective

Examples of spine in a Sentence

This X-ray shows her spine. Hedgehogs are covered with spines. They lack the spine to do what needs to be done.
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Recent Examples on the Web

Within weeks, the disease changed, with about 15 percent of patients developing a neurologic illness, such as meningitis, paralysis of facial nerves, or severe pain radiating from the spine to the arms, torso, or legs. Allen Steere, BostonGlobe.com, "Lyme disease: How we discovered it and where we go from here," 22 Aug. 2019 That’s thanks to a W16 engine (think of two V8s) that produces a chest-thumping, spine-bruising 1,600 horsepower. Alex Davies, WIRED, "Want to Burn $9 Million to Go 236 MPH? Try the New Bugatti," 19 Aug. 2019 One patient, a 62-year-old Vietnam War veteran with osteoarthritis in his shoulder and spine, was prescribed two narcotics plus a drug to treat nerve pain and a sleeping pill on his first visit, according to the medical board complaint. Erin Allday, SFChronicle.com, "Doctor facing murder charges in opioid cases was already under investigation," 15 Aug. 2019 As a result, Gould suffered lumbar and thoracic spine disc bulges and a traumatic brain injury, the lawsuit said. Kirk Mitchell, The Denver Post, "Shower of rocks tumbled from Arvada railroad bridge injuring woman through her car’s sunroof, lawsuit says," 15 Aug. 2019 Round rays are stingrays with small round bodies and short, stout tails with spines on them. Kristi Belcamino, Twin Cities, "Rosedale aquarium has three new baby stingrays," 13 Aug. 2019 Instead, the researchers were hoping to demonstrate that the spine contains all the circuitry necessary for the body to stand and to step. Cassandra Willyard, Scientific American, "How a Revolutionary Technique Got People with Spinal-Cord Injuries Back on Their Feet," 7 Aug. 2019 Few greater spines have ever been crafted in three years, let alone one summer. SI.com, "Ranking Every Chelsea Summer Transfer Window Since 2002," 10 Aug. 2019 The drag racing will be legal and the thrills will be spine-tingling this weekend when ROADKILL NIGHTS POWERED BY DODGE returns to the M1 Concourse in Pontiac. Greg Crawford, Detroit Free Press, "The weekend: Ribs R&B Music Festival; drag racing in Pontiac; 'Impractical Jokers' stars," 7 Aug. 2019

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

15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

History and Etymology for spine

Middle English, thorn, spinal column, from Latin spina; perhaps akin to Latin spica ear of grain

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More Definitions for spine



English Language Learners Definition of spine

: the row of connected bones down the middle of the back
: a sharp, pointed part on an animal or plant
informal : courage or strength of character


\ ˈspīn How to pronounce spine (audio) \

Kids Definition of spine

2 : a stiff pointed part growing from the surface of a plant or animal


\ ˈspīn How to pronounce spine (audio) \

Medical Definition of spine

2 : a pointed prominence or process (as on a bone)

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More from Merriam-Webster on spine

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for spine

Spanish Central: Translation of spine

Nglish: Translation of spine for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of spine for Arabic Speakers

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about spine

Comments on spine

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


formidable, illustrious, or eminent

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