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[spahyn] /spaɪn/
the spinal or vertebral column; backbone.
any backbonelike part.
a stiff, pointed process or appendage on an animal, as a quill of a porcupine, or a sharp, bony ray in the fin of a fish.
something, as a quality or trait, that constitutes a principal strength; resolution; stamina; backbone:
a situation that would test a person's spine.
a ridge, as of ground or rock.
a sharp-pointed, hard or woody outgrowth on a plant; thorn.
Bookbinding. the back of a book cover or binding, usually indicating the title and author.
Origin of spine
late Middle English
1400-50; late Middle English < Latin spīna thorn, backbone
Related forms
spined, adjective
spinelike, adjective Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for spine
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • "Yes, dear: that is, if you and I take the spine," replied the old lady.

  • Later I learned that his spine had been broken, that he would be paralyzed for life.

    The Harbor Ernest Poole
  • Such a tingle shot up Gibson's spine that he was sure he must have jumped.

    Irresistible Weapon Horace Brown Fyfe
  • For the present he can but prescribe a purgative and a massage of the arm and spine.

    The Book of Khalid Ameen Rihani
  • Why you'd put any other man's back up until he broke his spine.

British Dictionary definitions for spine


the spinal column
the sharply pointed tip or outgrowth of a leaf, stem, etc
(zoology) a hard pointed process or structure, such as the ray of a fin, the quill of a porcupine, or the ridge on a bone
the back of a book, record sleeve, etc
a ridge, esp of a hill
strength of endurance, will, etc
anything resembling the spinal column in function or importance; main support or feature
Derived Forms
spined, adjective
Word Origin
C14: from Old French espine spine, from Latin spīna thorn, backbone
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
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Word Origin and History for spine

c.1400, "backbone," later "thornlike part" (early 15c.), from Old French espine (French épine), from Latin spina "backbone," originally "thorn, prickle," from PIE *spei- "sharp point" (cf. Latin spica "ear of corn," Old Norse spikr "nail;" see spike (n.1)). Meaning "the back of a book" is first attested 1922.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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spine in Medicine

spine (spīn)

  1. See spinal column.

  2. Any of various short pointed projections, processes, or appendages of bone.

The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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spine in Science
  1. See vertebral column.

  2. Any of various pointed projections, processes, or appendages of animals.

  3. A sharp-pointed projection on a plant, especially a hard, narrow modified leaf, as on a cactus, that is adapted to reduce water loss. Compare thorn. See more at leaf.

spinal adjective
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary
Copyright © 2002. Published by Houghton Mifflin. All rights reserved.
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