Definition of backbone in English:

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Pronunciation: /ˈbakˌbōn/


1The series of vertebrae extending from the skull to the pelvis; the spine.
Example sentences
  • Both chickens and humans are vertebrates, a group of animals that have skulls and backbones.
  • Snakes have hundreds of similar vertebrae in their backbones, as can be seen in the skeleton of a python embryo.
  • This jawless mouth sets the lamprey and its cousin the hagfish apart from all other modern vertebrates - animals with backbones.
spine, spinal column, vertebral column, vertebrae;
Anatomy  dorsum, rachis
1.1US The spine of a book.
1.2 Biochemistry The main chain of a polymeric molecule.
Example sentences
  • The protective mucus in the gastrointestinal tract consists of glycoproteins - a protein backbone with carbohydrate side chains.
  • It has been proposed that the photoexcited flavin molecule adds a cysteine residue of the protein backbone, thus activating autophosphorylation of the enzyme.
  • Third, specific interactions between the polar headgroups and chemical groups of the backbone and side chains of the peptide are missing from the model.
2The chief support of a system or organization; the mainstay: these firms are the backbone of our industrial sector
More example sentences
  • Today, an access control system is the backbone of many organizations' total security plan.
  • Can't sophisticated people attack the computer systems that are the backbone of these big financial institutions?
  • ‘The focus is on developing a core of strong domestic banks to be the backbone of the financial system,’ she said.
mainstay, cornerstone, foundation, chief support, buttress, pillar, tower of strength
2.1Strength of character; firmness: he has the backbone to see us through this difficulty
More example sentences
  • True, they have not that softness of speech which is said to be possessed by Londoners, but they have plenty of grit and backbone in their characters.
  • What the football team needs now is a head coach with backbone and character.
  • Character and backbone behind closed doors is why, among players, he is still respected.
strength of character, strength of will, firmness, resolution, resolve, determination, fortitude, pluck, pluckiness, nerve, courage, mettle, spirit, moral fiber
informal guts, spunk, grit, true grit
3 Computing & Telecommunications A high-speed, high-capacity digital connection which forms the axis of a local or wide area network.
Example sentences
  • The first major project completed was the digital backbone network, which spans the entire country since its completion in February this year.
  • Villagers cannot afford to use the network even if the backbone transport and connection are free.
  • Smaller players can connect to their backbones via high-speed access lines, paying for a transit link to make the connection.

For editors and proofreaders

Syllabification: back·bone

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