• synonyms


[in-vur-tuh-brit, -breyt]
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  1. Zoology.
    1. not vertebrate; without a backbone.
    2. of or relating to creatures without a backbone.
  2. without strength of character.
  1. an invertebrate animal.
  2. a person who lacks strength of character.

Origin of invertebrate

From the New Latin word invertebrātus, dating back to 1820–30. See in-3, vertebrate
Related formsin·ver·te·bra·cy [in-vur-tuh-bruh-see] /ɪnˈvɜr tə brə si/, in·ver·te·brate·ness, noun
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

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British Dictionary definitions for invertebrates


  1. any animal lacking a backbone, including all species not classified as vertebrates
adjective Also: in'vertebral
  1. of, relating to, or designating invertebrates
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012

Word Origin and History for invertebrates



1826, from Latin in- "not" (see in- (1)) + vertebra "joint" (see vertebra). Invertebrata as a biological classification was coined 1805 by French naturalist Georges Léopole Chrétien Frédéric Dagobert, Baron Cuvier (1769-1832). As an adjective by 1838.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

invertebrates in Medicine


(ĭn-vûrtə-brĭt, -brāt′)
  1. Lacking a backbone or spinal column; not vertebrate.
  2. Of or relating to invertebrates.
  1. An animal, such as an insect or a mollusk, that lacks a backbone or spinal column.
The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.

invertebrates in Science


[ĭn-vûrtə-brĭt, -brāt′]
  1. Having no backbone or spinal column.
  1. An animal that has no backbone or spinal column and therefore does not belong to the subphylum Vertebrata of the phylum Chordata. Most animals are invertebrates. Corals, insects, worms, jellyfish, starfish, and snails are invertebrates.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary Copyright © 2011. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.

invertebrates in Culture


[(in-vur-tuh-bruhts, in-vur-tuh-brayts)]

Animals without backbones. (Compare vertebrates.)

The New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.