[ stur-nuhm ]

noun,plural ster·na [stur-nuh], /ˈstɜr nə/, ster·nums.
  1. Anatomy, Zoology. a bone or series of bones extending along the middle line of the ventral portion of the body of most vertebrates, consisting in humans of a flat, narrow bone connected with the clavicles and the true ribs; breastbone.

  2. the ventral surface of a body segment of an arthropod.

Origin of sternum

1660–70; <New Latin <Greek stérnon chest, breastbone

Words Nearby sternum Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023

How to use sternum in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for sternum


/ (ˈstɜːnəm) /

nounplural -na (-nə) or -nums
  1. (in man) a long flat vertical bone, situated in front of the thorax, to which are attached the collarbone and the first seven pairs of ribs: Nontechnical name: breastbone

  2. the corresponding part in many other vertebrates

  1. a cuticular plate covering the ventral surface of a body segment of an arthropod: Compare tergum

Origin of sternum

C17: via New Latin from Greek sternon breastbone

Derived forms of sternum

  • sternal, adjective

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

Scientific definitions for sternum


[ stûrnəm ]

  1. A long, flat bone located in the center of the chest, serving as a support for the collarbone and ribs. Also called breastbone See more at skeleton.

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