Definition of spine in English:

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Pronunciation: /spʌɪn/


1A series of vertebrae extending from the skull to the small of the back, enclosing the spinal cord and providing support for the thorax and abdomen; the backbone: a soft voice that sent a shiver down her spine
More example sentences
  • Cervical nerve roots exit the cervical spine through the intervertebral foramina between the vertebrae.
  • Below the lumbar spine is the sacrum, which is actually five vertebrae fused into one bone.
  • It can result in spina bifida, where the bones of the spine do not completely enclose the spinal cord.
backbone, spinal column, vertebral column, vertebrae;
technical dorsum, rachis
1.1The central feature or main source of strength of something: players of high quality who will form the spine of our side Puerto Rico’s mountainous spine
More example sentences
  • All but full forward Noel Costelloe in the central spine of the team were switched from their starting positions.
  • He chose to leave wingers Derek Townsley and Kevin Twaddle on the bench in an attempt to strengthen the spine of the side, and it proved a fine piece of judgment.
  • He has featured in the spine of any Aberdeen sides reaching out towards respectability in the past seven years.
mainstay, backbone, cornerstone, foundation, basis
1.2 [mass noun] Resolution or strength of character.
Example sentences
  • And there are men and women of spine in the private media in Zimbabwe who are determined to continue doing their job despite all the risks.
  • Sabu's youthful charm and popularity encouraged Alex to build his future Empire films with a more careful regard for character and a stronger dramatic spine.
  • In another case, also featuring a desperate mother and a child who'd gone bad, Judge Hatchett lectured the mother to get some spine.
strength of character, strength of will, firmness of purpose, firmness, resolution, resolve, determination, fortitude, mettle, moral fibre, backbone, steel, nerve, spirit, pluck, pluckiness, courage, courageousness, bravery, braveness, valour, manliness
informal guts, grit, spunk
British informal bottle
vulgar slang balls
2The part of a book’s jacket or cover that encloses the inner edges of the pages, facing outwards when the book is on a shelf and typically bearing the title and the author’s name.
Example sentences
  • Most packages contain two tapes within a box about the size of a book, arranged on bookstore shelves with the spine displaying the author and title.
  • Yet its opulent, mouldering furnishings appear intact, its books look down from the shelves, their spines unspoiled but their pages crumbled by termites.
  • She'd run her fingers gently over the book spines and read the titles he kept on the shelf above his writing desk.
3 Zoology & Botany Any hard, pointed defensive projection or structure, such as a prickle of a hedgehog, a spike-like projection on a sea urchin, a sharp ray in a fish’s fin, or a spike on the stem of a plant.
Example sentences
  • The dorsal and pectoral fins have hard spines whereas the other rays are soft like the anal and caudal fins.
  • Bream have a needle sharp set of spines running through the dorsal fin similar to bass.
  • The fins have strong leading rays, which form a row of sharp spines along the dorsal fin.
needle, quill, bristle, barb, spike, prickle;
technical spicule, spicula, spiculum, spinule
4 (also pay spine) A linear pay scale operated by some large organizations that allows flexibility for local and specific conditions.
Example sentences
  • There were two parts to the deal - a 3 percent pay increase and a second tranche that would introduce a new pay spine to allow many staff to get to a higher pay level more quickly.
  • The new salary introduces two forms of performance related pay: the revamped merit award scheme and the basic pay spine.
  • They say academic staff will get at least 6.5% by August 2004, with a further 1.2% on average where universities and colleges can introduce the new pay spine by that date.
5 Geology A tall mass of viscous lava extruded from a volcano: the Mt Pelee spine was exceptional only for its extreme height—over 300 metres
More example sentences
  • From north and south, swamps or dense jungle rose toward a volcanic spine that was thought for decades to be too wild to support human life.
  • It's an area of tundra and lakes with the volcanic spine of the Alaskan peninsula visible in the distance.
  • East of Eagle Harbor, Brockway Mountain Drive climbs the Keweenaw's volcanic spine.



[in combination]: broken-spined paperbacks
More example sentences
  • These small fish are deep bodied with a long spined dorsal fin.
  • Nothing worth jumping for joy in the first three, but there in Philosophy were a couple of grey spined illegibly titled books.
  • The wasp then digs a burrow nearby using her strongly spined forelegs alternately.


Late Middle English: shortening of Old French espine, or from Latin spina 'thorn, prickle, backbone'.

  • Spine is from Latin spina ‘thorn, prickle, backbone’. The word has been used to denote the back of a book from the 1920s. Spinney (late 16th century) is a shortening of Old French espinei, from an alteration of Latin spinetum ‘thicket’, from spina.

Words that rhyme with spine

align, assign, benign, brine, chine, cline, combine, condign, confine, consign, dine, divine, dyne, enshrine, entwine, fine, frontline, hardline, interline, intertwine, kine, Klein, line, Main, malign, mine, moline, nine, on-line, opine, outshine, pine, Rhein, Rhine, shine, shrine, sign, sine, spline, stein, Strine, swine, syne, thine, tine, trine, twine, Tyne, underline, undermine, vine, whine, wine

For editors and proofreaders

Line breaks: spine

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