ster·​num | \ ˈstər-nəm How to pronounce sternum (audio) \
plural sternums or sterna\ ˈstər-​nə How to pronounce sternum (audio) \

Definition of sternum

: a compound ventral bone or cartilage of most vertebrates other than fishes that connects the ribs or the shoulder girdle or both and in humans consists of the manubrium, gladiolus, and xiphoid process

called also breastbone

Examples of sternum in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web One man, Jerrod—all of the subjects are referred to only by their first names—reclines on a bed wearing a leopard-print shirt that’s open down to his sternum. Dan Piepenbring, The New Yorker, "The Romantic Partners of Exotic Dancers," 30 Mar. 2021 The blade, however, bent on Bowie’s sternum, and as Wright tried to yank it free, Bowie grabbed Wright’s arm, pulled him to the ground, and disemboweled him. David E. Petzal, Field & Stream, "Jim Bowie: The Man, the Myth, and the Knife," 16 Mar. 2021 Nix said at the time that the bullet hit his sternum and entered his lung, which was then removed during surgery. Fox News, "Ex-NFL player Louis Nix III's death leaves family with more questions than answers," 1 Mar. 2021 Timms mimed the buildup with his hands, tracing a path from his left breast to his sternum and up his neck—the blood piling up, like water struggling to navigate a drain. Joshua Rothman, The New Yorker, "How to Build an Artificial Heart," 1 Mar. 2021 Ricks — whose sternum was fractured during the altercation — dropped the lawsuit in 2018 as part of a $165,000 settlement with the City of San Antonio, records show. Emilie Eaton,, "San Antonio police officer broke woman’s teeth, lawsuit alleges," 1 Jan. 2021 Lucky for us, Roe climbed into a pair of fly fishing waders and walked sternum-deep into Lake Huron to get the shot. Austin Irwin, Car and Driver, "2020 in Review: Behold the Many Wonders of Michigan," 19 Dec. 2020 When a startled Nix lunged at them, he was shot in the chest, the bullet fracturing his sternum and lodging in his left lung. al, "Louis Nix III, former Notre Dame nose guard, shot in Florida," 14 Dec. 2020 Smith's chest is still numb from the incision, not to mention his sternum being cracked open. Mark Craig, Star Tribune, "'You're going to be fixed': Vikings' Cameron Smith recovering after open heart surgery," 28 Nov. 2020

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

1667, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for sternum

New Latin, from Greek sternon chest, breastbone; akin to Old High German stirna forehead, Latin sternere to spread out — more at strew

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Time Traveler for sternum

Time Traveler

The first known use of sternum was in 1667

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Statistics for sternum

Last Updated

2 Apr 2021

Cite this Entry

“Sternum.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 11 Apr. 2021.

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More Definitions for sternum


ster·​num | \ ˈstər-nəm How to pronounce sternum (audio) \
plural sternums or sterna\ -​nə \

Kids Definition of sternum


ster·​num | \ ˈstər-nəm How to pronounce sternum (audio) \
plural sternums or sterna\ -​nə How to pronounce sternum (audio) \

Medical Definition of sternum

: a compound ventral bone or cartilage that lies in the median central part of the body of most vertebrates above fishes and that in humans is about seven inches (18 centimeters) long, consists in the adult of three parts, and connects with the clavicles and the cartilages of the upper seven pairs of ribs

called also breastbone

More from Merriam-Webster on sternum

Nglish: Translation of sternum for Spanish Speakers Encyclopedia article about sternum

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