vertebrate

noun
ver·​te·​brate | \ ˈvər-tə-brət How to pronounce vertebrate (audio) , -ˌbrāt How to pronounce vertebrate (audio) \

Definition of vertebrate

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: any of a subphylum (Vertebrata) of chordates that comprises animals (such as mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians, and fishes) typically having a bony or cartilaginous spinal column which replaces the notochord, a distinct head containing a brain which arises as an enlarged part of the nerve cord, and an internal usually bony skeleton and that includes some primitive forms (such as lampreys) in which the spinal column is absent and the notochord persists throughout life

vertebrate

adjective

Definition of vertebrate (Entry 2 of 2)

1a : having a spinal column
b : of or relating to the vertebrates
2 : organized or constructed in orderly or developed form

Examples of vertebrate in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

Scientists previously thought only tropical pitcher plants ate vertebrates. Fox News, "Salamander-eating plant first known in North America," 12 June 2019 Pterosaurs were the first vertebrates to evolve powered flight, adapting to the skies long before birds would do the same. Brian Switek, Smithsonian, "What Doomed the Pterosaurs?," 14 Mar. 2018 Our own lineage, the vertebrates, first made an appearance in the Cambrian explosion, for example. Quanta Magazine, "The New Science of Evolutionary Forecasting," 17 July 2014 The Newton County Sheriff's Office said Monday that misdemeanor charges for the beating of a vertebrate animal have been filed against three people related to the Fair Oaks Farms case. Chicago Tribune Staff, chicagotribune.com, "Daywatch: Lightfoot downplays police union rumor she repeated, Obama Center's fate on the line and other things to know to start your day," 11 June 2019 Our hands came from the forelimbs of land vertebrates, which derived from the pectoral fins of fish. Frans De Waal, Discover Magazine, "Cheerful Chimps: Are Animals Really Happy When They Smile?," 31 May 2019 Before sequencing the octopus, scientists thought that only vertebrates had large numbers of these proteins. Quanta Magazine, "Biologists Search for New Model Organisms," 26 July 2016 The cells of invertebrates like insects, though, are quite different from vertebrates. Matt Simon, WIRED, "Tired: Eating Bugs. Wired: Eating Bug Meat Grown in a Lab," 3 June 2019 At Harvard University, teams led by Allon Klein, Marc Kirschner, and Sean Megason focused on zebrafish and frogs, two vertebrates that developmental biologists have studied for decades. Elizabeth Pennisi, Science | AAAS, "How one cell gives rise to an entire body," 26 Apr. 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective

The teeth were collected back in the 1970s, found in the Yukon’s Old Crow Basin—a place that has yielded over 50,000 vertebrate fossils representing more than 80 species. Riley Black, Smithsonian, "Prehistoric Hyena’s Teeth Show Bone-Crushing Carnivore Roamed the Arctic," 19 June 2019 Gardozo Vazquez is being held at the Newton County Jail on a misdemeanor charge of animal cruelty and a felony charge of torturing or mutilating a vertebrate animal, police said. Amy Lavalley, Post-Tribune, "Former Fair Oaks employee arrested; faces animal torture, cruelty charges," 12 June 2019 Edgar Gardozo-Vasquez, 36, of Brook, Indiana, was taken into custody on charges of animal cruelty, a misdemeanor, and torturing or mutilating a vertebrate animal, a felony. Amanda Jackson, CNN, "An arrest has been made in the Fair Oaks Farms animal cruelty case," 12 June 2019 Prosecutors had charged them Monday with misdemeanor beating of a vertebrate animal and arrest warrants were issued for the men. CBS News, "3 charged with animal cruelty in connection with undercover Fair Oaks Farms video," 11 June 2019 Gardozo-Vasquez, 36, was taken into custody on a warrant for charges of animal cruelty, a misdemeanor, and torturing or mutilating a vertebrate animal, a felony, the Newton County Sheriff's Office said in a news release. Ginger Rough, Indianapolis Star, "Suspect in Fair Oaks Farms animal abuse case was in country illegally, ICE says," 5 June 2019 Scientists just named the longest-living species of vertebrate animal. William Herkewitz, Popular Mechanics, "There Is a Shark That Can Live for 400 Years," 11 Aug. 2016 The project aims to be the most complete bird tree of life to date, and is the first to be done on a vertebrate animal group. Kat Eschner, Smithsonian, "What We Can Learn From a New Bird Tree of Life," 21 Apr. 2018 But in an attempt to understand the evolution of RNA viruses, researchers have started to survey other vertebrate classes including fishes, amphibians and reptiles. Giorgia Guglielmi, Scientific American, "Huge Trove of Unknown Viruses Found in Fish, Frogs and Reptiles," 5 Apr. 2018

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

Noun

1826, in the meaning defined above

Adjective

1820, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

History and Etymology for vertebrate

Noun

New Latin Vertebrata, from neuter plural of vertebratus

Adjective

New Latin vertebratus, from Latin, jointed, from vertebra

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Statistics for vertebrate

Last Updated

20 Jul 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for vertebrate

The first known use of vertebrate was in 1820

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More Definitions for vertebrate

vertebrate

noun

English Language Learners Definition of vertebrate

biology : an animal that has a backbone

vertebrate

adjective
ver·​te·​brate | \ ˈvər-tə-brət How to pronounce vertebrate (audio) \

Kids Definition of vertebrate

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: having vertebrae or a backbone Mammals are vertebrate animals.

vertebrate

noun

Kids Definition of vertebrate (Entry 2 of 2)

: an animal (as a fish, amphibian, reptile, bird, or mammal) that has a backbone extending down the back of the body

vertebrate

adjective
ver·​te·​brate | \ ˈvərt-ə-brət How to pronounce vertebrate (audio) , -ˌbrāt How to pronounce vertebrate (audio) \

Medical Definition of vertebrate

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : having a spinal column
2 : of or relating to the subphylum Vertebrata

vertebrate

noun

Medical Definition of vertebrate (Entry 2 of 2)

: an animal of the subphylum Vertebrata

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appealing forcibly to the mind or reason

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