See more synonyms for spine on Thesaurus.com
  1. the spinal or vertebral column; backbone.
  2. any backbonelike part.
  3. 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.
  4. something, as a quality or trait, that constitutes a principal strength; resolution; stamina; backbone: a situation that would test a person's spine.
  5. a ridge, as of ground or rock.
  6. a sharp-pointed, hard or woody outgrowth on a plant; thorn.
  7. Bookbinding. the back of a book cover or binding, usually indicating the title and author.

Origin of spine

1400–50; late Middle English < Latin spīna thorn, backbone
Related formsspined, adjectivespine·like, adjective
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Related Words for spine

vertebrae, bone, ridge, back, rachis, chine

Examples from the Web for spine

Contemporary Examples of spine

Historical Examples of spine

British Dictionary definitions for spine


  1. the spinal column
  2. the sharply pointed tip or outgrowth of a leaf, stem, etc
  3. 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
  4. the back of a book, record sleeve, etc
  5. a ridge, esp of a hill
  6. strength of endurance, will, etc
  7. anything resembling the spinal column in function or importance; main support or feature
Derived Formsspined, adjective

Word Origin for spine

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

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

spine in Medicine


  1. 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.

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.
Related formsspinal adjective
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary Copyright © 2011. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.