Share this entry

Share this page


Syllabification: ver·te·bra
Pronunciation: /ˈvərdəbrə

Definition of vertebra in English:

noun (plural vertebrae /-ˌbrē, -ˌbrā/)

Each of the series of small bones forming the backbone, having several projections for articulation and muscle attachment, and a hole through which the spinal cord passes.

In the human spine (or vertebral column) there are seven cervical vertebrae (in the neck), twelve thoracic vertebrae (to which the ribs are attached), and five lumbar vertebrae (in the lower back). In addition, five fused vertebrae form the sacrum, and four the coccyx

Example sentences
  • The neural spines in posterior dorsal vertebrae lack distinct lateral projections.
  • The spine is made up of 24 bones called vertebrae, plus the sacrum and coccyx.
  • A fracture of the transverse process of a lumbar vertebra may damage the ureter.


early 17th century: from Latin, from vertere 'to turn'.



Pronunciation: /-brəl, vərˈtē-/
Example sentences
  • In contrast to the cervical vertebral centra, the dorsal centrum is shorter and more mildly opisthocoelous.
  • Many arterial branches arise from the vertebral and basilar artery to supply the medulla oblongata and the pons.
  • The vertebral bodies and intervertebral discs also have to withstand high compressive loads.

Definition of vertebra in:

Share this entry

Share this page


What do you find interesting about this word or phrase?

Comments that don't adhere to our Community Guidelines may be moderated or removed.

Get more from Oxford Dictionaries

Subscribe to remove adverts and access premium resources

Word of the day orthoepy
Pronunciation: ˈɔːθəʊɛpi
the correct or accepted pronunciation of words