Share this entry

Share this page

fetus

Line breaks: fetus
Pronunciation: /ˈfiːtəs
 
/
(British (in non-technical use) also foetus)

Definition of fetus in English:

noun (plural fetuses)

An unborn or unhatched offspring of a mammal, in particular, an unborn human more than eight weeks after conception.
Example sentences
  • A small subset of fetuses with large lung lesions will become hydropic, deteriorate rapidly, and die in utero.
  • Feedback is currently being used in a trial of early versus delayed delivery for preterm, growth retarded fetuses.
  • How well a woman and the fetus do during pregnancy depends upon the type of heart problem.
Synonyms
embryo, fertilized egg, unborn baby, unborn child

Origin

late Middle English: from Latin fetus 'pregnancy, childbirth, offspring'.

More
  • effete from (early 17th century):

    Today effete is usually used of a young man who is affected and rather effeminate, but the word originally referred to animals and meant ‘no longer fertile, too old to bear young’. It comes from Latin effetus, from ex-, meaning ‘out’, and fetus ‘breeding, childbirth, offspring’—the same word as English foetus (Late Middle English) (US fetus). The meaning developed into ‘having exhausted strength or vigour’ and in the late 18th century on to ‘feeble, over-refined’.

Usage

The spelling foetus has no etymological basis but is recorded from the 16th century and until recently was the standard British spelling in both technical and non-technical use. In technical usage fetus is now the standard spelling throughout the English-speaking world, but foetus is still found in British English outside technical contexts.

Words that rhyme with fetus

acetous, boletus, Cetus, Epictetus, Miletus, quietus

Definition of fetus 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 emulous
Pronunciation: ˈɛmjʊləs
adjective
seeking to emulate someone or something