[pek-ter-uh l]
  1. of, in, on, or pertaining to the chest or breast; thoracic.
  2. worn on the breast or chest.
  3. proceeding from the heart or inner consciousness.
  4. Speech. (of a vocal quality) appearing to come from resonance in the chest; full or deep.
  5. of or for diseases of the lungs.
  1. Anatomy. a pectoral part or organ, as a pectoral muscle.
  2. pectoral fin.
  3. something worn on the breast for ornament, protection, etc., as a breastplate.

Origin of pectoral

1400–50; (noun) late Middle English < Latin pectorāle, noun use of neuter of pectorālis of the breast (pector-, stem of pectus breast + -ālis -al1); (adj.) < Latin pectorālis
Related formspec·to·ral·ly, adverbin·ter·pec·to·ral, adjectivepost·pec·to·ral, adjectivepre·pec·to·ral, adjectivesub·pec·to·ral, adjective Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for pectorals

Contemporary Examples of pectorals

  • Without a Cowell to roll her eyes at and slap on the pectorals, many wondered whether Paula's act would resonate.

    The Daily Beast logo
    Paula Abdul's Live To Dance Comeback

    Richard Rushfield

    January 5, 2011

  • Baggy, pedestrian clothing hides their lean muscles; there are no perceptible rock-like calves, no prominent triceps or pectorals.

    The Daily Beast logo
    Up in the Air

    Rachel Wolff

    January 21, 2010

Historical Examples of pectorals

British Dictionary definitions for pectorals


  1. of or relating to the chest, breast, or thoraxpectoral fins
  2. worn on the breast or chesta pectoral medallion
  3. rare heartfelt or sincere
  1. a pectoral organ or part, esp a muscle or fin
  2. a medicine or remedy for disorders of the chest or lungs
  3. anything worn on the chest or breast for decoration or protection
Derived Formspectorally, adverb

Word Origin for pectoral

C15: from Latin pectorālis, from pectus breast
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 pectorals



1570s, "pertaining to the breast," from Latin pectoralis "of the breast," from pectus (genitive pectoris) "breast, chest," from PIE root *peg- "breast."



early 15c., "ornament worn on the breast," from Middle French pectoral and directly from Latin pectorale "breastplate," noun use of neuter of adjective pectoralis (see pectoral (adj.)).

As a shortened form of pectoral muscle, attested from 1758. Slang shortening pec for this is first recorded 1966. Related: Pectorals; pecs.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

pectorals in Medicine


  1. Relating to or situated in the breast or chest.
  2. Useful in relieving disorders of the chest or respiratory tract.
  1. A muscle of the chest, esp. the pectoralis major.
The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.

pectorals in Science


  1. Located in or attached to the chest, as a pectoral fin or a pectoral muscle.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary Copyright © 2011. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.