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[vur-tuh-brit, -breyt] /ˈvɜr tə brɪt, -ˌbreɪt/
having vertebrae; having a backbone or spinal column.
belonging or pertaining to the Vertebrata (or Craniata), a subphylum of chordate animals, comprising those having a brain enclosed in a skull or cranium and a segmented spinal column; a major taxonomic group that includes mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians, and fishes.
a vertebrate animal.
Origin of vertebrate
First recorded in 1820-30, vertebrate is from the Latin word vertebrātus jointed. See vertebra, -ate1
Related forms
nonvertebrate, adjective, noun
subvertebrate, noun, adjective
unvertebrate, adjective Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for vertebrate
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • Remember that you are a vertebrate animal, and it is by mistake that you have developed a soul.

    The Great Hunger Johan Bojer
  • In the scale of evolution, one vertebrate was as good as another.

  • He rejects Geoffroy's theory of the vertebrate nature of Articulates.

    Form and Function E. S. (Edward Stuart) Russell
  • It is not of the essence of the vertebrate type to be tetrapodal.

    Form and Function E. S. (Edward Stuart) Russell
  • Maule appealed to the court: 'My lords, we are vertebrate animals, we are mammalia!

    Familiar Quotations John Bartlett
  • First invertebrate life, then the lowest forms of vertebrate life.

    The Prehistoric World E. A. Allen
  • It is not a single if, but a several-jointed one; not an oyster, but a vertebrate.

    Christian Science Mark Twain (Samuel Clemens)
  • The difference resembles that between a vertebrate animal and a worm.

  • What is the evidence as to its nature in these vertebrate median eyes?

    The Origin of Vertebrates Walter Holbrook Gaskell
British Dictionary definitions for vertebrate


/ˈvɜːtɪˌbreɪt; -brɪt/
any chordate animal of the subphylum Vertebrata, characterized by a bony or cartilaginous skeleton and a well-developed brain: the group contains fishes, amphibians, reptiles, birds, and mammals
of, relating to, or belonging to the subphylum Vertebrata
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 vertebrate

1826, from Latin vertebratus (Pliny), from vertebra "joint or articulation of the body, joint of the spine" (see vertebra).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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vertebrate in Medicine

vertebrate ver·te·brate (vûr'tə-brĭt, -brāt')

  1. Having a spinal column.

  2. Of or characteristic a vertebrate.

A member of the subphylum Vertebrata.
The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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vertebrate in Science
  (vûr'tə-brĭt, -brāt')   
Any of a large group of chordates of the subphylum Vertebrata (or Craniata), characterized by having a backbone. Vertebrates are bilaterally symmetrical and have an internal skeleton of bone or cartilage, a nervous system divided into brain and spinal cord, and not more than two pairs of limbs. Vertebrates have a well-developed body cavity (called a coelom) containing a chambered heart, large digestive organs, liver, pancreas, and paired kidneys, and their blood contains both red and white corpuscles. Vertebrates include fish, amphibians, reptiles, birds, and mammals.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary
Copyright © 2002. Published by Houghton Mifflin. All rights reserved.
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